Sunday, December 25, 2022

Cursed Fates by Caroline Peckham


I wasn't expecting the Zodiac Academy series to be so addictive. Seriously, I mostly just picked it up hoping to laugh at it and maybe enjoy it a little bit. Cut to me sinking hundreds of hours reading thousands of pages of these books like a total sucker. Irony, I don't know her. But seriously, these books are pure crack. They have all the fun escapism of the Harry Potter series, only without the TERF guilt. It reminds me of this time I was on a luxe cruise ship pregaming with my friends and drank five glasses of champagne (don't judge me). It felt good going down until it didn't and suddenly, BOOM. Hungover and seasick, leaving in the middle of a surf n' turf dinner to worship at the altar of ultimate regret. The moral here is that bingeing five things in a row probably isn't a good idea, especially if they might be more intense than you fully realize. Case in point: these books.

This book continues where the last one leaves off, with heartbreak and betrayal. The last book ended on such an emotionally wrenching note that I needed a bit of a breather before diving into this one. In this book, CURSED FATES, we learn the full effects of what it means to be Star Crossed, which was kind of foreshadowed in one of the earlier books. Which makes this 800+ page tome a veritable BRICK of angst, where we watch our ill-fated couple bite their nails and fight back lust over their inability to be together. Hard to watch? I THINK SO. (Alexa, play Bishop Briggs's "Never Tear Us Apart.")

I actually think this book is a lot better than the previous one. There's still way too many unnecessary POVs (which I hear gets worse in later books), but I loved the development between the Vega twins and the Heirs. Someone told me that this is when they finally start to work together for the greater good of the kingdom and yeah, I see it. The transition from hatred to wary alliance was really well done, and I liked it. I also liked that we got more insight for Tory's behavior in this book. She's not an easy character to like but I don't hate her as much as other readers do because I think if you read between the lines it's easy to see how circumstances have made her distrustful and leery, and how much she's hurting. There's also a totally hot threesome in this book which I'm normally not into, but it's kind of been foreshadowed/hinted at in previous books and I thought the authors did a good job with it.

Some other random thoughts: Washer is still gross but I think I might hate Professor Highspell even more. It was so satisfying to see Kylie finally get her comeuppance even if it was late in coming, but that's okay because I have Mildred to hate instead. I KNEW the Orion/Darcy ship was getting too cozy and I'm not even surprised that the authors decided to fuck with it to cause me pain. Darkmore prison seems even worse than Azkaban and I'm super excited to read the spin-off series set there. There's some more world-building and twists in this book that were shocking AF, especially that ending. Holy FUCK. Just when I think the book can't hurt me anymore, it finds a new way to twist my arm. Also, Lionel is so gross and needs to DIE. It's been a while since I wished death for a character so badly. Loved the plot twist with Gabriel though, although I swear, that dude is allergic to shirts.

Romantic angst is the primary conflict in this book but I'm excited for the new stakes being delivered to the kingdom of Solaria and how the boys and the girls will band together to stop the threat. Now if you excuse me, I'm going to be nursing this glass of port while moping to Smile Empty Soul (I think I might have just given my age away with that music reference, whoops).

3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars

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