I’ve seen a lot of buzz about this book in the horror social media circle. I am generally wary of books with a lot of social media buzz, because oftentimes it is more a sign of a strong marketing campaign than it is of a great book (see the CoHo* phenomenon). When John Durgin offered Audible codes for The Cursed Among Us to reviewers, I decided it’s time to see what all the fuss is about. I found the kindle version available on KU and read along with the Audible narration.
I have seen this book described as a lot of things that I am usually not interested in reading. Coming of age. YA. Kids vs evil. Nostalgic? It is definitely not YA, despite the main characters being a group of teenagers. Yes, they unleash and then end up fighting an evil force. There are lots of references to bands and movies of my youth. Are the boys now reaching 40 and keeping their parents’ secrets? I can’t help but laugh when I think about the world I grew up in being considered retro. Apparently the 90s are in, because my own teenager has asked me what it was like growing up in the 90s on countless occasions. And I suppose it could be described as a coming of age story. But what a way to come of age.
This is the story of a group of teenage friends who accidentally unearth a town secret when they venture too far into the woods. They’ve been warned all their lives not to do that, but they’re filming a horror movie for class (and for funsies) and need the perfect spooky location. They stumble onto a grave site marked with stones covered in unfamiliar sigils, and their fictional horror story becomes reality. What follows is a string of grisly deaths at the hands of dead witch possessed by a demon and the kid who acts as her puppet. For a minute it looks like evil will prevail, but the boys are determined to fight it until the bitter end. There are survivors, but there is no happy ending. We are left with a hint that the story is not over yet. It’s not quite a cliffhanger and it ends on a note that doesn’t really need a sequel, but there is an opening for one.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. Durgin crafts a compelling story in a way that manages to make the reader cringe at some of the descriptions while being unable to take their eyes off the page. Joe Hempel’s performance is great, as usual. I’ve never been disappointed by a Joe Hempel narration. I wonder if Howie got his ass whooped for missing curfew. I know you just watched half the town get murdered by a supernatural horror, but rules are rules, son. If you like horror but don’t necessarily want to read the more extreme variety I usually review, check this one out. It is not YA, but I would be comfortable recommending it to teenagers and adults alike.
Big thanks to John Durgin for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy The Cursed Among us, by John Durgin on Amazon for a couple bucks or read it as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.
*I just want to clarify that CoHo gets no hate from me. I’ve read a few of her books and liked them well enough, but I consider them popcorn. Nothing wrong with that, I love popcorn. I read a lot of books that are dark and disturbing and sometimes I just want to chomp my way through something light and airy. And something I’ve seen from a lot of CoHo superfans is that her books got them interested in reading or rekindled an old love of reading and that’s always a win in my book.