Book Review: The Accursed


The Accursed

Joyce Carol Oates


688 pages


Turn of the 20th century, Princeton campus in New Jersey. The town suddenly becomes afflicted with a curse that induces mass hysteria. Nobody can put their finger on what is happening or why, and it gets a little outlandish with demons and creepy gothic manors.

Involved in the tale are many notable figures: Woodrow Wilson (meek a afflicted, he is the president of Princeton), Grover Cleveland, Upton Sinclair, and a few more.

My thoughts:

I realize I failed miserably in giving a thorough synopsis, but this is a difficult book to pin down. JCO is a master story teller, and rarely, I imagine, could any other author take on such an enormous undertaking and create what she did here. I picked it up because I want to love JCO and the setting and subject matter made it a perfect Halloween read. But JCO has a tendency to either blow me away (Blonde and My Sister, My Love FOR SURE) or let me down. This one kind of fell in the middle of the spectrum.

I enjoyed a lot of things about The Accursed. The historical characters she included really added an extra element to the story. Upton Sinclair, in my opinion, was added unnecessarily, considering the length of the narrative. I was constantly questioning his purpose in the story, but I am glad she included him because the constant references to The Jungle convinced me to pick it up and I am enjoying it immensely.

Overall, this was quite the undertaking. At almost 700 pages, it was not a quick read. Initially, I really enjoyed the story. The time period and the gothic setting was really something special. I enjoy when historical figures are used in fiction and I thought JCO did it perfectly. I did start to lose momentum mid way through, and although JCO, to me, is always very verbose just for the sake of it, it eventually did become to much for me and I wish the book had had a little more editing.

I would absolutely check this one out if you are looking for a book that really transports you to a setting. Just be prepared for the investment.

I purchased this book for my personal library.

One Response

  1. This is on my TBR. I have a tough time with useless chatter in novels though, and I find that most hefty books need not be so chunky. I will still read this in the near future. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t drive me mad.

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