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Reviewed by:
  • Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu
  • Fiona Hartley-Kroeger

Haydu, Corey Ann Ever Cursed. Simon Pulse, 2020 [304p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781534437036 $18.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781534437050 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-12

Five years ago, the five princesses of Ever were cursed: Jane can't eat, Nora can't love, Alice can't sleep, Grace can't remember, and Eden, upon her Thirteenth Birthday celebration, won't be able to hope. Reagan, the young witch who impulsively bespelled them in misguided retaliation for their father's horrific actions, returns from exile to help lift the curse before it becomes unbreakable on her eighteenth birthday. Haydu brings the symbolic power of fairy tale to bear on the plot: the tasks Reagan sets open the princesses' eyes to the state of their kingdom, causing them to rethink the narratives they've believed about themselves, their beloved father, and their people, including the small remaining conclave of witches who live in uneasy symbiosis with the royals. Jane and Reagan's alternating perspectives bring depth and nuance to the story, and there's a refreshingly casual approach to gender diversity ("When she [Alice] was born, it was assumed that she was the first and only royal son. But after a few years it became clear to everyone that she was actually their third daughter"). The exploration of abuse of power shares significant territory with Cashore's Bitterblue (BCCB 5/12), while the girls' growing solidarity enables them, and by extension readers, to imagine a radically changed, beautifully imperfect world. This unusual fairy tale for the #MeToo era includes a trigger warning for sexual assault and eating disorders. [End Page 476]



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