July 2023

Garden of the Cursed

By Katy Rose Pool
Garden of the Cursed is an exciting start to a duology starring a teenage cursebreaker.
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Marlow Briggs is a 17-year-old cursebreaker for hire, the most in-demand badass in Caraza City, a metropolis in the gritty region known as the Marshes. It’s an always interesting, occasionally life-threatening existence of evading gangs and sneaking around speak-easies. Her curse-sensing cat, Toad, keeps her company, and she works with her best friend, Swift, at the Bowery Spellshop.

A year ago, she was living an entirely different life in fancy Evergarden with her mother. One terrible day, Mom went missing and Marlow fled to the Marshes, an area lacking the beauty and amenities of Evergarden but rife with clients who need her magical know-how and investigative savvy.

As Katy Rose Pool’s inventive and engaging Garden of the Cursed opens, a potential client turns up in the form of Adrius Falcrest, Marlow’s former friend and scion of one of the wealthy and powerful Five Families. Despite their now-frosty relationship, Adrius implores her to break a curse that threatens the lives and fortune of his family.

Marlow agrees to a fake-dating situation in order to explain her and Adrius’ unlikely reunion. His habitual snideness and family’s snobbery ensure the couple’s antagonism persists as Marlow’s investigation proceeds, making a difficult job even tougher. Pool, best known for her Age of Darkness trilogy, adeptly explores the ways miscommunication and mistrust can warp relationships of all sorts. But with help from Swift and the new friends Marlow makes along the way, Pool also shows how strong friendships can provide sustenance and joy.

As Marlow picks her way through a minefield of class conflict, criminality and frustrating uncertainty, she realizes her mother’s fate may be tied to Adrius’ curse. Mom’s disappearance is “the great unsolved mystery of her life. The question that lived under her skin, that prodded at her when her thoughts were otherwise quiet.”

Pool keeps Garden of the Cursed moving right along, punctuating the story with suspenseful conflict and emotional reckonings, then revving up to a cliff-hanger ending that will leave readers eager for the next installment in this exciting duology.

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Garden of the Cursed

Garden of the Cursed

By Katy Rose Pool
ISBN 9781250846662

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