Today is my stop on J.R Richardson’s Blog Tour. I don’t normally do blog tours, but this one I just couldn’t resist, I am sure it will soon become apparent why!
Read on for my Five Star review and a sneaky excerpt.
Cooper Shaw lives his life under a pen name and enjoys the anonymity it provides during his journeys across the globe as a seasoned writer for a travel magazine. When his job lands him in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts to cover the famous Festival of the Dead, he soon realizes that he can’t stay invisible forever as he faces ghosts from a past he’s been trying to forget ever since he left.
The city holds nothing but bad memories for Coop until he meets a quirky young woman with an old soul and curious insights by the name of Finnley Pierce. While she acts as his tour guide through a town he thought he knew, Finn helps him unearth the truth of his childhood and might even begin to open up his heart.
By unraveling the mystery of his father’s murder, Coop may finally accept who he is, where he came from, and perhaps even realize what he wants for his future.
It’s taken me a week to write this review. It’s been hanging around in the back of my mind as I attempted to put my feelings for Cursed be the Wicked into some sort of logical order.
This review is basically going to take the form of me rambling and trying to tell you all why you most definitely have to read this book.
I have three reason why you should read this book.
3) J.R Richardson is one seriously clever woman
Cursed be the wicked starts with Coop, or Cole Stone as he is known giving us an insight into his childhood, his mother Crazy Maggie Shaw and a brief glimpse into family life. He has divided his life into two manageable sections. The before and the after the moment he was accused of killing his father.
Um excuse me??? I am hooked already.
On the following pages Coop, back in the present, gets a new assignment for his travel journalist job. Thing is it’s an assignment he doesn’t want. Go to Salem Massachusetts and write a piece about why everyone should visit. The irony of this being that Coop is the very last person in the world who wants to visit because he has spent the last ten years running away his old home town and the memories of what happened there. The situation is made worse by the fact the whole of Salem is in uproar after the death of Crazy Maggie Shaw, the crazy woman who thought she was a witch and who’s been in jail for ten years convicted of killing her husband – Coop’s father.
It took me a few pages to get into the mindset of being inside Coop’s head, he was quite sullen and surly in the opening pages, and it was clear he had a trunk load of baggage he was hauling around with him.
But when he gets too Salem and meets Finn at a small B&B we start to see a different side of him. The chemistry between these two is so well written and I found myself highlighting line after line of text as J.R built this amazingly unique relationship. I LOVED being inside the guy’s head for all their scene’s and again J.R completely had her style and Coop’s ‘tone’ down in perfection.
Finn, or Finnlay as she hates to be called is quirky and oddball. She’s independent, and completely free-spirited, basically she is the perfect catalyst to make Coop face up to his past and during the pages of the book this is what she does. Together they unravel all the secrets that Coop doesn’t understand. I loved that Finn was so free spirited and not a needy heroine. She was mature and always tried to do the right thing even if it meant she didn’t get what she wanted.
Now I don’t believe in giving plot’s away in reviews, basically because it drives me crazy when I read a review and then no longer have to read the book myself. But what I can say is that the plot of this story has so many unique plot turns and twist, it keeps you on your toes. There was one moment where I actually shouted at my iPad. I loved the layering effect that J.R strengthened her story with. Nothing is as it seems, a bit like being in one of those mirror rooms at a circus where any turn could lead you in a different direction or make you see things, even characters differently.
So while I am not going to tell you anything of what happens I can tell you that it is mind-blowingly clever.
Another standout element of this book that I just have to mention, even though I have rambled on too long is the amazing writing style J.R has. Some of the prose is just beautiful, and again I found myself underlining every bit that I had to read twice, just because it was so perfect I wanted to make sure I remembered it. My chest aches. It’s going to explode any minute now, until Finn places her palm against where my heart lives and looks into my soul.
There is also a lot of humour especially in Coop’s internal thoughts. The dead don’t call their sons and freak them the fuck out for no reason.
It’s the balance between the poetic heart stopping imagery and the quick fire one liners that makes this book just an around perfect read for me. Add to this, magic, Salem, witches and well you’ve pretty much got me over a barrel.
J.R I hate you for being so damn clever and making me jealous but I love you for writing the single best book I have read in a long time.
Five glowing stars from me.
You can add Cursed be the Wicked to your Goodreads TBR here
Or buy on Amazon here
So now for that little excerpt. This is Coop and Finn’s first meeting, and I love it.
* * *
“Raymond, I’m tired. I don’t have time for this to-”
The woman standing behind the front desk spins to see, not Raymond, whoever the hell that is, but me. As she comes to the realization that I’m not who she thinks I am, I get the feeling she still thinks I’m someone as she finishes her sentence.
Her long, brown hair looks as though it’s trying to escape the ponytail she’s pulled it into. Her eyes are dark, fierce even. It feels like she’s peering straight into my soul, or piercing it, as they stare across the front entry way toward me.
Her mouth falls open slightly as her eyes narrow, and now I’m getting the impression she’s trying to place me or, maybe she already has placed me.
She looks away when her eyes catch up with mine and I approach with caution. As she begins to type away at the keyboard in front of her, I try to side step the awkwardness beginning to form by clearing my throat.
“I know who you are,” she cuts me off, sharply.
“You do?” I ask. Blood begins to rush through me. I clench my jaw, waiting for the judgmental comments to arrive.
Her eyes soften then, and she simply nods with a thin line forming across her lips.
She studies me, then twists her mouth up as though she’s disappointed of all things.
I get it. Just about half the town thought I was the one that killed my father, even after my mother confessed,
“Seems like every other Tom, Dick, and Harry in the media’s shown up already. You may as well join ‘em,” she says, and I’m surprised yet relieved at her words. In a way.
“You think I’m…?”
“You’ve got paparazzi written all over you.”
She arches an eyebrow.
I don’t mean to but I laugh out loud from the sheer relief that she has no idea who I am. I also feel the need to defend myself because I’m not a fan of being lumped in with the paps.
“The funeral’s not for another week, ya know,” she informs me, going back to her computer.
“You’re mistaken,” I insist, even though she’s right. I am media. Technically.
“Really,” she replies, like she’s not quite buying it. So I push harder. I’m very convincing when I want to be.
“Yes. Really,” I tell her and now she’s back to eying me and we’re staring each other down for a minute or two. I’m convinced she’s going to fight me on this but in the end, she bites her tongue and goes back to banging away on the keyboard.
“In town for the festival then?” she asks, changing the subject. Like whatever just happened didn’t happen at all, which both intrigues and irritates me at the same time.
I watch her a bit while she busies herself with the computer. The way she tucks some stray hairs behind her ear and then lets her fingers graze her neck before she goes back to typing. The easy way her fingers fly across the keyboard. And how she is most definitely avoiding eye contact with me for some reason.
I spot her name tag. She doesn’t look familiar to me but you never know.
Betsy, Betsy, Betsy.
I can’t think of a single Betsy I knew growing up.
She looks up and her eyes narrow again. It’s only now that I’m aware of the fact that I’ve been glaring at her for the past couple of minutes without saying a word. I clear my throat and forget to speak when she licks her lips and then takes the bottom one in between her teeth.
I am officially an ape.
She lets it go.
I stare some more.
“So . . . ?”
“What?” I snap, a tad more abrasive than I intend.
“Do you have a reservation?” she asks, trying to be polite without letting on that she most likely thinks I’m the slowest dolt on the planet.
Maybe I am crazy.
Maybe it runs in the family.
I gather my senses and shake off the odd feeling of vertigo I’m having.
“No,” is all I give her. Then I drop my bags and rest my elbows against the counter. My eyes close as I rub my temples, anxiously waiting to hear her tell me they’re all booked up, forcing me to drive those extra miles after all.
I mean, what would it take? Ten, twenty minutes tops to get there?
My lids open to see her staring at me with curled eyebrows and a worried look in her eyes. They look so familiar to me again.
I just can’t…
“Are you drunk?” She asks. It takes me aback.
“Because I’m not in the mood for-”
“I’m not drunk,” I assure her, wishing I was. As she eyes me carefully once again, I feel her staring straight through me.
* * *
A little bit about J.R Richardson
A writer of stories and lover of life.
Jo grew up in Maryland with four siblings, three parents and an endless number of cousins within the vicinity. Today she lives in Florida with her two girls and a husband that shares her same sense of humor and basic take on life as we know it.
There is also a give away to celebrate the release of this amazing book. Click on the link to take part and for your chance to win.