The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

68%

6 Critic Reviews

The Accursed is, in the end, neither a paranormal romance nor an easy read. With its many digressions and historical asides, it is not a page turner.
-NPR

Synopsis

A major historical novel from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation)—an eerie, unforgettable story of possession, power, and loss in early-twentieth-century Princeton, a cultural crossroads of the powerful and the damned

Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century: a tranquil place to raise a family, a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at the edges of the town, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent. A powerful curse besets the elite families of Princeton; their daughters begin disappearing. A young bride on the verge of the altar is seduced and abducted by a dangerously compelling man–a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince who might just be the devil, and who spreads his curse upon a richly deserving community of white Anglo-Saxon privilege. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.

When the bride's brother sets out against all odds to find her, his path will cross those of Princeton's most formidable people, from Grover Cleveland, fresh out of his second term in the White House and retired to town for a quieter life, to soon-to-be commander in chief Woodrow Wilson, president of the university and a complex individual obsessed to the point of madness with his need to retain power; from the young Socialist idealist Upton Sinclair to his charismatic comrade Jack London, and the most famous writer of the era, Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain–all plagued by "accursed" visions.

An utterly fresh work from Oates, The Accursed marks new territory for the masterful writer. Narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling supernatural elements to stunning effect.

 

About Joyce Carol Oates

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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.
 
Published March 5, 2013 by Ecco. 1057 pages
Genres: History, Romance, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Accursed
All: 6 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Stephen King on Mar 14 2013

Oates’s hypnotic prose has never been better displayed than it is in the book’s final fabulism...

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Deborah Harkness on Mar 05 2013

The Accursed is, in the end, neither a paranormal romance nor an easy read. With its many digressions and historical asides, it is not a page turner.

Read Full Review of The Accursed | See more reviews from NPR

Financial Times

Excellent
Reviewed by David Evans on Apr 19 2013

The Accursed is a big, mad, colourful romp, respectful of the literary traditions in which it participates, leavened with a piquant humour.

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NY Journal of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by A. J. Kirby on Mar 05 2013

The Accursed is a unique, vast multilayered narrative; a genre bending beast of a book, utterly startling from start to finish, compulsive and engaging, the writing crackling with energy and wit.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Monique Polak on Mar 15 2013

Like the curse itself, the Bog Kingdom is a dark fantasy. But The Accursed tells us that evil is undeniably real.

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National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Monique Polak on Mar 15 2013

Though it’s clever, The Accursed is less accessible than much of Oates’s previous work. Part of the problem is the novel’s size — at nearly 700 pages, it makes for an arduous read, one that will likely put off anyone who is not an Oates devotee.

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Ben Labovitz 23 Nov 2013

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