The Curse of Four
by Caitlin Kittredge
Cover Artist: Ben Templesmith
Review by Steve Sawicki
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596063983
Date: 31 October 2011 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This is a novella length work set in Kittridge's Black London universe. Jack Winter, who used to do really bad things involving black magic has turned a new leaf. Now he exorcises ghosts and tries to live a simple life. The problem is, his past won't leave him alone.
Fiona Hannigan, a girl Jack dated and eventually abandoned turns up murdered. It does not take much time before Jack, even with his inside connections to the police is accused of doing the deed. Then, things go from bad to worse. More murders and more proof that Jack was the killer. Except this time he is innocent. Well, perhaps not innocent but definitely not the one who did the dirty deed. Now he is running from the police, searching for the real killer. And his affinity for ghosts is not helping him. If he does not figure things out soon London could be lost.
If you are familiar with, and enjoy, Kittridge's Black London universe then you will definitely enjoy this novella. If you have not had the chance to taste the dark fantasy world that Kittridge has built then this might be the perfect entry point for you. The world here is definitely dark, depressing, full of death and mayhem and people who have either totally given up or adopted a hard edge in response to the despair that is evident everywhere. No character better embodies this than Jack Winter. Even though Winter is trying to reform the trying just never seems to actualize and he finds himself, either through circumstance or intention, back on the wrong side of things. And, even when he believes he has done good deeds those good deeds turn out to have gone bad and come back to haunt him, sometimes literally.
I liked this novella. The world is rich and full and interesting and the characters that traverse it are diverse and just as colorful. I had not experienced Kittridge's universe before and this novella has definitely left me wanting more. The writing is very crisp yet moody, with Kittridge developing her plot over the course of events rather than through exposition or revelation. Her characters do and we learn from the doing.
Good stuff. Definitely recommended. This is a fine read and short enough that you can finish it in one sitting, which you no doubt will want to do and then want more.