Jul 20, 2021

ARC Review--Curses by Lish McBride


Curses is the 'Beauty and the Beast' retelling I've been waiting for."--Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"A unique and twisty magical romp!"--Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author

Merit Cravan refused to fulfill her obligation to marry a prince, leading to a fairy godling's curse. She will be forced to live as a beast forever, unless she agrees to marry a man of her mother's choosing before her eighteenth birthday.

Tevin Dumont has always been a pawn in his family's cons. The prettiest boy in a big family, his job is to tempt naïve rich girls to abandon their engagements, unless their parents agree to pay him off. But after his mother runs afoul of the beast, she decides to trade Tevin for her own freedom.

Now, Tevin and Merit have agreed that he can pay off his mother's debt by using his con-artist skills to help Merit find the best match . . . but what if the best match is Tevin himself?


I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review.


If you know me, then you know I love a good fairy tale retelling! Make it The Beauty and the Beast and you’ll have me grabbing the book off the shelf before it can even settle! Lish McBride’s Curses is what you would call a gender swapped version of The Beauty and the Beast, wherein a young girl was cursed to be a beast until she marries a man of her mother’s choosing.

Yup, totally not what you’d expect. Merit is not exactly your selfish and unkind princess, she’s simply a teenager who didn’t want to marry a man old enough to be her father. She wanted to marry for love, but her mother wants to marry to prosper. So she had a fairy curse her daughter to basically be a beast until she did what she wanted her to. Merit was pretty much your average teenager in terms of attitude, but when forced to marry someone she did not love, she rebelled and was punished.

Then in walks Tevin, he’s something of a con-artist.  He makes a living with his family by getting rich girls’ families to pay him off to leave their daughters alone. And when his mother is caught stealing a powerful healing flower from Merit’s gardens, she trades her imprisonment for her son’s. So yeah, no doting mothers or families around here. Tevin takes his mother’s place and agrees to help Merit learn when people are lying to her. Tevin has the gift of compulsion and can basically make people do things for him, if they are willing and they usually are.

One thing that kind of bugged me was this healing flower that Merit had access to. When turned into a concoction she’s able to be human again for four hours. This I felt like was cheating The Beauty and the Beast story. I mean, her mother wanted her to be beastly because she was behaving as such…but yet she willing wants her daughter to take this potion to be “normal” when meeting suitors. Oh, there’s also the time limit on the curse, if Merit doesn’t marry a man of her mother’s choosing before her birthday in six weeks…she will remain a beast for all times!

I don’t know what it was about the story that didn’t have me hooked. I love a good retelling, but for some reason, this one just didn’t do it for me. I was skimming the pages just trying to get to the ending because I was becoming bored with it. For a fantasy there was a lot of mundane boringness happening. I did enjoy seeing Merit and Tevin fall slowly in love, because you know they were bound to.

This one had multiple points of view that let you know what the hero, heroine, and even the villain were thinking and you pretty much knew right away who was being nefarious. But all the same, I found myself just a little bored with this one. I’d skimmed a head a few pages and find that nothing really happened to get the story moving again. I was just meh with it all.

So while Curses held oodles of potential for me as a fairy tale retelling reader, it just didn’t have the same kind of magic I’ve found with like tales. It didn’t really hold my interest despite its founding fairy tale. I did like the similar aspects this book had with the original one, if in feel, if anything else. But sadly, it was just a little too plain for me to get through entirely. I would still recommend this one to all fairy tale lovers and especially fans of The Beauty and the Beast! One reader’s dull read is another’s most favorite book after all.


Overall Rating 2/5 stars






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