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Cursed by Benedict Jacka
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781937007591
Date: 29 May 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Alex Verus is a diviner, a magic user that can see along the various alternate futures and the choice points that generate the threads. In Fated, he was hired because of his ability to find a way to steal and break into an artifact. That adventure got him noticed by the ruling magical body. It also caused him to take on an apprentice, Luna Mancuso, who had previously did some freelance work for him finding magical items.

Luna wants to get involved in the magical community because she inherited the curse that was laid upon her family years ago. It's a luck curse. Well, it seems a curse to her since anyone she gets close to dies because their luck is stripped off and goes to her -- accidents happen to people she gets near. Alex has been training her to learn to control her luck field. Luna doesn't want years of training, she wants to be safe around people now.

One of the council members hires Alex to help them kill a barghest who has been killing people around its lair. However, when they get there they find the barghest dead but with no cause of death that they can see. Since barghests don't just keel over dead, this is a very puzzling mystery. There is one way this might have happened, but it's prohibited by both dark and light mages. Besides there's been no rumors or other cases.

Luna wants to introduce Alex to someone. The someone turns out to be Martin, a charming young man who wants to do magic and doesn't want to waste time learning it. Alex takes an instant dislike to him, but an artifact that Alex thought locked in his secure storage shows up on a shelf just as Martin is looking at it and Martin takes it. Next thing Alex knows Martin is using it. The Monkey Paw grants wishes -- usually seven of them -- and the wishee usually, well always actually, comes to a bad end if they don't give it up.

Those two threads are intertwined in a action packed, mystery thriller that will keep you turning the pages. I thought that Fated was very well done and I'm not a bit disappointed with the second Alex Verus novel. In fact, I'm anxiously looking forward to the next book, Taken, due out in September of 2012.

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