The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

The Accursed Reviewed by Teri Davis

A new Joyce Carol Oates novel is exciting. This phenomenal writer always intertwines a spellbinding tale by perfectly planning out her novels. This is one those novels that was planned years ago and put aside. Ms. Oates recently revisited this tale of the early twentieth century at Princeton University utilizing much of her personal experiences for the foundation of the story. With characters such as Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Jack London, Samuel Clemons, Upton Sinclair, and Grover Cleveland, this fictional novel could enlighten readers of life of the times through their perspectives.

This Gothic-styled tale weaves mostly around one family descended from the Rev. Winslow Slade. As a reflection old through the eyes of the historian M. W. Van Dyke II, in the year 1984,THE ACCURSED varies between realistic fiction and fantasy. Winslow’s time viewing his grandchildren and their trials of life are definitely curses. How Winslow managed to have his family cursed and finally how it was lifted is the novel.

THE ACCURSED was an interesting tale. Much time is spent on the develop of the setting with much in-depth descriptions of the time and the places. Apparently the editors relied on Oates reputation and did not revise or read closely this novel since twice a character had the wrong last name. This novel definitely reminded me of those Gothic novels with overly wordy introductions, so much that the reader can easily become discouraged. As for the plot, the story was well-organized with the interweaving of character events. Overall, the story was unusual with dreams morphing into reality involving the mysterious Pine Boroughs of New Jersey.

THE ACCURSED excels with the prejudicial judgmental perspectives of people, places, and the time period around Princeton. The well-known characters are placed in their defined niche. Winslow’s grandchildren are the focus as each one falls victim of the curse along with their parents.
Joyce Carol Oates has won numerous literary awards and being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. As a professor at Princeton she continues to teach and write.

If you have never read a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, I recommend THE FALLS or WE WERE THE MULANEYS. THE ACCURSED is for those who enjoy the words circling their heads for one-hundred pages before having any action, only descriptions.

Perhaps my expectations were too high for THE ACCURSED. I expected to have the history engulfing the story rather than the supernatural. Hopefully, Oates goes back to the real world in her future novels.

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