Five years ago, the princesses of Ever were placed under the Spell of Without by an impulsive young witch. Every year on their 13th birthday, the princesses will be cursed to go without one vital thing. The eldest Jane was cursed to be without food. Therefore, she hasn’t eaten or drank in five years. Nora is cursed not to love, Alice is cursed not to sleep, Grace is cursed not to remember. Now that the youngest princess, Eden, is turning 13, the witch will tell them how they can break the spell. The witch, Reagan, had not been of age when she cast the spell. Young witches can only cast Slow Spells, which means that the curses will not kill the princesses until Reagan turns 18, when the spell becomes True. She recklessly cast the spell in hopes of punishing the King on behalf of her mother. Reagan expects to see the King suffering and in pain, but he is none of those things. In fact, he is fairly happy. She starts to regret casting the spell, especially when she realizes there are only four days between Eden’s 13th birthday and her own 18th. It seems daunting, but the princesses and Reagan must work together to break the curse. She tasks them with gathering four items: a thimble of tears from the saddest person in Ever, a clock from the oldest, a lock of hair from the most handsome, and the crown of a King. The last seems fairly simple. After all, their father must want them to break the spell. The other objects are trickier. The princesses have never left the castle. A moat separates the royals from their subjects, and once they get to the other side they are in for a rude awakening. The kingdom has been suffering. Worst of all, their father may not be the Good and Gentle King they thought he was. Ever Cursed is pretty heavy with allegory. You have your princesses and their spell, plus their mother who was cursed into a glass box with the same spell. What’s kind of perverse is how princes and princesses from other kingdoms fetishize the cursed princesses, saying how rare they are because of the curse, because of what they are lacking. Then we get to the King, who seems like a good man and a good father at first glance. He didn’t even mind that Alice was originally a prince or that Grace wants to marry a princess. Then Jane and the others start to see what was always in front of them, what they had been looking away from the whole time.
“Kings and princes have been doing the same things to princesses and witches for ages… It was a king’s kingdom and we all suffer for it…”
They want a quiet and pretty Queen stuck in a glass box. They want a Princess who can’t eat who wastes away to nothing. They want a witch who protects the kingdom from the top of the highest mountain. What they don’t understand is that all the girls are witches and queens/princesses all at the same time. They have the ability to be vulnerable, but they also have power. That power scares them. The front cover of Ever Cursed looks like a typical YA fantasy. The pretty flowers don’t convey the feminist fairy tale within. It definitely made me angry as a woman, especially the aforementioned scene where the sisters and Reagan are assaulted by the other princes and princesses. I’m even more motivated to smash the patriarchy now.
“It would be nice, to be given everything we deserve. But it’s not necessary. And if he won’t give it, we’ll just take it. We’re goddamn witches. Don’t tell us we can’t…”
You can visit my review at its home at my blog here.