Author: Harriet N. Everend
Publication Date: 23 June 2021
Available As: Paperback and e-book
An ancient fiend scheming to devour them all.
Learning the truth of a mysterious home their families have shared for years, four bloodlines come face to face with a frightening reality that soon leaves them haunted—and hunted. A sinister force brews in the spaces between these walls, and hell will rise if ever He’s allowed to have His way.
Now, plunged into the heart of evil and strapped for time, embattled bloodlines seek and gather every magical defense they can acquire to stall the advance of their infernal adversary into the realms of man.
But like them, their enemy is not alone, and his underlings are just as bloodthirsty as HIM.
Cursed Legacy is the debut novel of Harriet N. Everend. The story is a generational one, one that spans many centuries and involves a great many characters, the majority of whom all come from four family lines: the Sterlings, the Bornes, the Rosenthals, and the Porters. These four families are bound by a history of blood and horror, and are very often at odds with each other, which causes issues when they are called into service to battle the malevolent “Him”.
While I freely admit to not being the most well-read of readers, I can safely say that I haven’t really ever read anything quite like Cursed Legacy. You might think that leaping forward to a new generation and new set of characters in every chapter would be jarring; and, indeed, it can be as some characters share very similar names and characteristics. Still, Everend does a great job of catching the reader up with the events between the chapters and usually always carries a character over to the next generation, where they are now older and fundamentally changed from their experiences.
It’s also very impressive how the author manages to keep every chapter fresh; each chapter is like its own self-contained story within a far larger narrative, with the characters encountering all kinds of different horrors and supernatural events that test, break, and, yes, kill them. The first thing to note when going into Cursed Legacy is that it’s better to not grow too attached to characters as they often fall victim to gruesome curses, violent deaths, or their own naivety and the machinations of this demonic entity.
The evil force that haunts these families (and one particular house in particular) is an elusive, manipulative figure; referred to mainly as “Him”, He commands all kinds of nightmarish legions in His quest to be reborn and rum amuck. These included possessing the living and driving them to self-harm and murder, bringing devilish little dolls to live, and sprite-like demons that tempt Everend’s characters with promises of wealth and power…only to destroy them from the inside out. His presence is ominous and looming and hangs over every aspect of the book like a suffocating shadow; even when characters appear to strike a victory against Him, their efforts are either undone in the next generation or are for naught as His power and influence continues to grow while their family lines grow less and less capable of standing against Him. By the time the story catches up to the 20th century, the stakes are considerably raised; it’s pretty amazing to see entire generations of characters fail or succeed only in striking temporary victories and, essentially, waste their time and lives in trying, in vain, to keep Him from amassing power. Bringing the story, and the characters, to the very brink of all-out failure really ramps up the tension in the finale, which becomes a desperate last stand against a seemingly eternal evil.
Being based on an intricate and macabre board game, Cursed Legacy features a number of relics and artefacts that the characters seek out, or protect, in order to arm themselves against Him or offer them advice. The most prominent of these is the Helm, an item that demands respect and the presence of each family member to use it, which is a great way to explore the complex interpersonal relationships between these very different families. Typically, the four family lines have very little in common except for their shared heritage and there are often tensions between at least two members of any one household, which spells disaster when they try to work together.
Another great aspect of the novel is Everend’s use of a Hell-like dimension known as “The Realms”; this chaotic other world forms a central aspect of the story as characters are forced to journey there and, often sacrifice a part of themselves in order to gain knowledge or armaments to defend themselves with. The introduction of this element, and the unreliability of her narrators (who all tell their story directly to the read through use of first-person narrative) means that, when Everend has one character confined to a mental institution, the idea of this reality being the fabrication of a diseased mind isn’t entirely unexpected and adds extra wrinkles to the way He manipulates people, causing them to either doubt their own sanity or establish maniacal cults determined to free Him from His shackles.
It’s cliché to say but I found Cursed Legacy to be a real page-turner. Chapters are marked by some superb artwork and are briskly paced, and there’s an amazing amount of attention to detail put into describing the different ages that the story is set. It begins very much in the aristocratic vein as a period piece and its locations, and society, evolve and change as much as the characters as the years pass and they are subjected to more and more atrocities. By keeping every chapter fresh and featuring new obstacles, the book is able to appeal to fans of all kinds of different horror stories (hauntings, slashers, demons, etc) so that there really is something for everyone. I can’t imagine the time and effort it must take to juggle this many disparate time periods and characters and I would say that, by and large, Everend does a commendable job of making everything flow in a logical and entertaining way.
If you’re interested in checking out Cursed Legacy, the book is available to purchase on Amazon. To learn more about Harriet Everend and her journey as an author, visit the links at the top of this review.