Benedict Jacka's acclaimed Alex Verus series continues with Cursed.
his second sight made him infamous for defeating powerful dark mages,
Alex has been keeping his head down. But now he's discovered the
resurgence of a forbidden ritual. Someone is harvesting the life-force
of magical creatures—destroying them in the process. And draining humans
is next on the agenda. Hired to investigate, Alex realizes that not
everyone on the Council wants him delving any deeper. Struggling to
distinguish ally from enemy, he finds himself the target of those who
would risk their own sanity for power...
Alex knew returning to his invisible life wouldn't be an option after he defeated the dark mages in the previous installment, but even so he still tries to stay out of things. But when someone starts stealing the life-force of magical creatures, leaving them nothing more than empty husks, he knows he cannot stay on the sideline any longer. The Council has asked him to investigate this ancient ritual and the dark mages that are performing it. But as he goes searching for answers, he finds the lines between light and dark blurring. With no clear cut villain in sight, he will have to keep his wits about him if he wants to have any chance at making it out of this mess alive. I still don't quite get Alex's character, but he is slowly growing on me. Now that I understand him and his motivations a little better, I understand why he makes the choices he does even if I don't agree with him. Although I will say it still baffles me how a man who can see future threads still winds up getting himself in so much trouble. If it weren't for his insatiable curiosity he wouldn't land himself in half the messes he does. For example, there is a character that he KNOWS is using enchantments to try and manipulate him, yet does he stay away this character? Nope, he dives right from the frying pan and into the fire, all the while telling himself he probably shouldn't since he doesn't know whether his emotions are real or not around this character. At this point I've pretty much given in to having a fond exasperation for him and his decisions. I really enjoyed seeing Alex's growing attachment to others. Previously he was so closed off and wouldn't let anyone in. Honestly, I don't blame him considering how many times he has gotten burned in the past, but it still makes for a lonely existence to shut everyone else out. He's gone from having absolutely no attachments, to having several good allies and a network to potentially call on for assistance, as well as a new apprentice. Of course the latter causes him a great deal of headaches due to the responsibility, but I think the challenge will be really good for him. Perhaps keep his boredom and curiosity at bay just a little bit while he focuses on training his apprentice. Just like in Fated, the
threats seemed to come from many different sides, and it was always
unclear who was friend or foe. However, this time around, things didn't
feel quite as chaotic, which really helped my enjoyment of the book.
Granted, I had things figured out long before the characters did, but I
would much prefer that over the utter chaos of the first installment. It
really let me take a step back and watch things unfurl for the
characters. So, in the end I have to say Cursed was a much stronger book than the first. Between the character development and the high stakes action, I was hooked from very early on, and I definitely recommend it.