She walks alone in the darkness feeling the coolness of the air on her skin when she shouldn’t – not anymore. She is unfamiliar with the place, the tall trees that were suddenly there, manifesting as the world she knew, the one filled with other things, other people, another life only moments before, began to melt away – but she is not afraid. Because Gabby is where she was destined to be.
Gabby has come home.
Her family greets her with sadness in their eyes, the pain of loss evident on their faces and she strides into a house made from memories. They had fought so hard to save her from The Realm, the place that had stolen the ever after of their ancestors for centuries. But they had failed and even as they welcomed one of their own – the daughter whose hair Doug had smoothed when she was little – they were in danger of losing two more to that wretched nothingness. They were in danger of losing everything.
Accursed, the final book in The Realm series, puts Patrick, his son Doug, and his granddaughter Gabby together in a fight against an evil that is hungry for the souls of all the people he loves – of every soul that would descend from his line. Surrounded by seen and unseen foes, Patrick and his family must try to save the only two people left who could turn the tide: Gabby’s children.
He’s falling from the sky before their very eyes…
To paraphrase one of my favorite sections in this book, “[L. Marie Wood] always had a flair for the [unique]—a way with [storytelling] that is [sincere]”. It would have been easy for Wood to lean into trite and well-worn expectations in wrapping up the gripping Richardson family saga which began with a titillating introduction to The Realm and continued through the all-encompassing Cacophony, and has now closed out with the breathtaking Accursed. She could have fed us the same kinds of characters and plot points we’ve seen over and over again, making her life easier and offering nothing less than what other stories provide.
Of course, Wood didn’t take the easy way out here and we benefit immensely from her decision.
Instead, she wove a beautifully tragic and compelling conclusion to the Richardson’s journey towards redemption that resonates in the real world. Wood doesn’t disappoint with stunning elements of real (and often forgotten) people in history. She is an expert in delivering uncommon narrative tropes, such as examining salvation and how we determine who deserves to be saved; and rectifying the omission of women’s desires and motivations from larger stories. Wood also excels at managing multiple story lines effectively so that the interactions between them are seamless: everything happens satisfactorily, but not in expected ways.
We cheer for the victories and gasp at the shortfalls, engrossed in the way her unique vision plays out, because it’s delivered with authenticity and an honesty we don’t always get from storytellers. We trust we’re in good hands with Wood, and we are. This is a writer who won’t try to trick us or take any shortcuts, regardless to what would be less challenging to write. For instance, it would have been easy to find a resolution that allowed Gabby to stay alive, but this outcome wouldn’t have served the story best. Instead, we cheer for Gabby to join the efforts her father, Doug, and grandfather, Patrick, started towards discovering the debilitating mystery of their lineage that cursed them for generations because we know her presence will continue to be dynamic.
We’re immersed in Gabby’s love for her children, Chris and Autumn, as it’s a welcome companion to the love her father and grandfather have for her. A stunning revelation is while Gabby didn’t die for her children, she would have willingly eschewed the afterlife to live for them over and over again and fought after death to help them as much as she could. This palpable mother’s love prepared Chris for an all-consuming devotion to his fiancee’, Asha. In true soulmate fashion, Asha immediately joins the fight with Chris and his family, fueled by her reciprocated adoration of him. These heartwarming familial and romantic ties shine a necessary light on positive relationships within a genre that often tears them apart rather than applaud them.
The effortless way Wood employs this nuanced and realistic characterization is ultimately one of my favorite aspects of this book, and the whole series. Wood fearlessly allows all her characters to be exactly who they are, whether they’re noble or petty, weak or strong. Most often, her characters embody various characteristics that should be at odds with others—but this is exactly one of the main conundrums of human existence. These warring qualities are candid and refreshing, providing an immersive experience while reading this book. No distance exists between us and the characters because Patrick, his progeny, Asha, and their enemies all feel like us or people we know.
And saying goodbye to people we know can be difficult. Closing the door on Patrick and his family isn’t fraught with this sadness, however. L. Marie Wood gave them to us honestly and told their story with all loose ends satisfied—we aren’t left wanting for anything. All we can do now is happily bid them well and relish in the memories of the peek we had into their journeys.
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Accursed Release Date
Books in the series…
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