Cursed by Thomas Wheeler

cover image

Penguin Random House UK, 2020. ISBN: 9780241376621.
(Ages: 13+ or Yr 9+) In this Arthurian legend retold, women play more of a part in the story, with strong female characters supporting the female lead. Following outcast Nimue, Fey born though cursed by The Hidden, this adventure filled fantasy begins when Nimue's entire village is slaughtered. Before passing, her mother charges Nimue to get the Sword of Power to Merlin, but on the way Nimue discovers her own power and joins forces with other outcast Fey. Now working to protect those who made her an outcast, Nimue must find a way for them to survive. With royalty, religious groups and Fey kind coveting the Sword of Power, Nimue has an arduous journey ahead of her.
Now available as a series on Netflix, Cursed is a dark (and loose) retelling of the traditional Arthur stories, with plenty of battles and action. Having read the book, I am curious how the TV-show adaptation might be in comparison - I expect it would be just as epically violent and bloodthirsty (which means I might not watch it!). Littered with illustrations throughout, the book has more female characters than I've ever heard of in an Arthur legend, which is a nice addition. As is the potential for a legendary QUEEN (back cover), in place of the traditional legendary king. Along with the renowned Merlin, Arthur makes his appearance, but the story focuses on Nimue, her quest and the battle for the Sword of Power.
Themes: Folklore, Myths and legends, Vengeance, Refugees, Unifying groups, Girl power.
Melanie Phillips