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The Accursed

Written by Joyce Carol Oates
Fiction

This widely-acclaimed new Gothic novel from Joyce Carol Oates presents well-known characters from American history, including Woodrow Wilson, Upton Sinclair, Jack London and Sherlock Holmes... or are they who they seem to be? We are also introduced to demons, vampires, ghosts and the Bog Kingdom... a world where Time does not exist, ruled over by a king and queen where cruelty and ennui are coupled together.

Several of the "best" families of Princeton, N.J. are impacted by the Crosswicks Curse which manifests itself in the years 1905 and 1906. The first person affected is Annabel Slade on her wedding day; she leaves the church after her marriage but not with her bridegroom... instead with a visitor who has been wined and dined by the finest families, Annabel and her lover vanish from Princeton, searched for but seemingly gone from the world. After the disappearance no one can agree on her lover's appearance or dress. Who was Axson Mayte, and what was his hold on Annabel?

Oates addresses many relevant cultural issues in this novel: racism, the role of women in society, sex, the working class, wealth, politics, marriage and children. And she does this in the context of the Gothic novel moving the action from family to family, from scene to scene, and character to character in a frenzy of activity. This may sound as if it would be hard to follow but she writes so seamlessly that her transitions are coherent and engaging.

Get ready for a whirlwind of a story, atmospheric and vivid. Oates takes us on a dance where the music is other worldly and plunges us into the lives of her characters, some who survive their demonic experiences and some who do not...

We also have many of her other novels available in the Library. Including another Gothic tale “My Heart Laid Bare”. I've read it and can highly recommend it, there are no supernatural demons in “Heart”, only human ones. It explores the nature of American society and how we are cast and held in our destinies by the choices we make and the lives we desire.

Recommended by Suzi.

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