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Cursed
Benedict Jacka
Ace, 304 pages

Cursed
Benedict Jacka
Benedict Jacka became a writer almost by accident, when at 19 he sat in his school library and began writing in the back of an exercise book. Since then he has worked for the civil service, studied philosophy at Cambridge and been a bouncer, but has always found the time to keep writing.

Benedict Jacka Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Fated

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

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Benedict Jacka started off his Alex Verus series with a bang with Fated, and doesn't lose pace with Cursed. Verus, a diviner who can see multiple futures at once, is minding his own business, working with his apprentice, Luna, to try to manage her curse when he's pulled into a plot to resurrect an old ritual to drain the life-force from magical creatures. Verus hates the ritual on principle, but he is also close friends with a huge spider named Arachne, who weaves exquisite clothing. It all starts when a beautiful enchantress runs into his magical shop with an assassin on her heels. A mage named Belthas hires Verus to track down his old nemeses, Cinder and Rachel; Luna makes friends with Martin whom a dangerous wish-granting monkey's paw has chosen; and Meredith, the enchantress, has the power to keep Verus from clear thinking. Let's not forget the mercenary Garrick and that at least two of these folks want Verus dead. His divining ability may help him dodge bullets, but it won't help him sort out the good guys from the bad guys, and that decision could mean his life.

Jacka fills his stories with nonstop action and ends his chapters with cliffhangers, so readers can't stop and put the book down. Whether on purpose or not, the chapters are fairly long, but there aren't so many, so it's easy enough to tell yourself one more chapter and get sucked in for another 25 pages. Pretty soon, the clock chimes 3 a.m., and you still have to go to work in the morning. Ah well…such is the life of an urban fantasy fan, right? In some ways, Jacka reminds me of Jim Butcher although the locale is London, not Chicago, and his writing has that quintessential British flair I love. Fans of Ben Aaronovitch will also find Jacka appealing. As with many characters, Alex Verus isn't all good or bad but just a guy like the rest of us who tries to do the right thing, but has done things he regrets. He's definitely a protagonist with whom one can relate. The whole concept of a diviner is a new twist in the realm of magic, and I'm curious to see what Jacka will do next in Taken, due out in September.

Copyright © 2012 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.


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