It was just about all I could do to keep the pages closed until I tucked in with my reading lamp. The book wandered with me, stored in my purse, for about a day before I could really give it my full attention. It was not the most focused 24 hours for me.
With This Curse begins, as one might imagine, with a curse. A cursed house to be exact, one that threatens to destroy the thing you treasure most. How and when it will strike can never be said, but it lingers there like a malignant humor and turns events that would normally be thought of as nothing more than petty fate into something sinister.
Young Clara Crofton appears at Gravesend Hall with her mother, who is to become the housekeeper of the daunting manor. She is headstrong and tends towards impudence when she forgets to remain silent, but it is not until years later that the curse strikes and banishes her from the house, removing her from her love and her home in one fell swoop.
And then her love dies...the curse, even from a distance, wasn't through with her yet.
Years later, Clara is a seamstress with a very distinct, very real problem: her employer, the exotic actress for whom she has been working for several years, is moving to America to marry richly, leaving the toil of the London stage behind her. Which also means leaving Clara behind, unemployed and with little resources to depend upon. There seems to be little choice for the spirited young woman until...
...the twin brother of her deceased love, Atticus Blackwood, appears on her doorstep with a singularly absurd proposal: marry him in name alone, to ease the passing of his ailing father, and he will make sure she never wants for anything for the rest of her days. But this means returning to Gravesend Hall, the cursed house that stole everything from her all those years ago...
Ms. DeWees has woven yet another tale that draws you in, pulling you further and further until you can no longer put the book down no matter the hour. I was seething with frustration during the last chapters that I simply could not read any faster, so anxious was I to discover the resolution to the tale. And yet I did not want it to be over just yet. The rich descriptions and brilliant characterization made every page an intrigue, and the slow blossom of detail formed a perfect build to the climax of the story that literally had me pacing across the room as I read. The plot is well-formed and richly thought out, so much so that it only seems you could make a stab at the ending until a twist surprises you and shows you at the same time that it could never be anything else. Clara has a sharp wit and a humble wisdom that makes her charming in her triumphs and her foibles, and Atticus is such the gentleman-- in both perfection and flaw-- that he makes you wish he'd jump off the page into the room next to you and ask you to play cards with a gleam to his eye. With This Curse brings a true gem to the gothic-romance genre that should not be missed, and I look with great excitement for Ms. DeWees's next volume.