Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Source: ARC provided by publisher/ Reviewed for (myself) Teen Book Scene
Cover: I am in hearts and kisses with this cover because it perfectly reflects the first one while showing that the characters have grown up. While this one isn't as creepy as the first one (I talk about almost giving up the first novel because I was so scared of the cover but I also mention that I AM SO GLAD I DIDN'T), it is just creepy enough.
First Sentence: "At first glance, the town houses in Silver Sage Acres are as white and identical as an endless row of bared teeth."
Mini-Review: Addictive from the first page to its last, From Bad To Cursed is an engrossing tale of mystery, sisterhood, bravery and just the right amount of horror to keep it's reader up at night.
Alexis is the last girl you'd expect to sell her soul for beauty and popularity. After all, she already has everything she needs--an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a family that finally seems to be healing after her sister Kasey's unfortunate possession by an evil spirit.
But then Kasey tells Alexis about the mysterious new club she has joined, and the oath she has taken to someone named Aralt. Worried that Kasey's gotten in over her head again, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the Sunshine Club, too. At first, their connection with Aralt seems harmless. Alexis tries a new -- normal-- look, and finds herself reveling in her elegance and success.
Still, despite the Sunshine Club's outward perfection, the group is crumbling from within, and soon Alexis finds herself battling her own personal demons. She can hardly even remember why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn't to destroy Aralt...why would she hurt someone who has given her so much, and asked for so little in return?
Blending horror and humor, From Bad To Cursed is sure to be unforgettable. Taking all the amazing elements of the first installment and amping up the stakes for this newest addition, it is the perfect novel to read just after dark, with every single light in the house on. From it's characters to it's break-neck plot, From Bad To Cursed is original and yet, somehow, completely familiar.
I mentioned before in my review of the first novel, Bad Girls Don't Die, that horror novels are tricky to pull off without strong leads. Alexis's got that covered and then some. She's never been the girl that runs blindly into something because the plot calls for it. She strives to know what she's dealing with and is brave enough to do something about her situation. As a newly reformed bad girl, making amends for her dark days, she is likable. She still tells it how it is but is trying hard to be nicer to people. Her voice in this next installment felt even more authentic than the first one. As she slowly changes after joining the Sunshine Club, you can feel the things you love about her starting to slip away. Suddenly, she is becoming unreliable which is complete change from her strong, stable self in the first book. Seeing her fade into something completely other really does make you realize how incredibly strong she was in the first and by the ending, you are clamoring for her to find that strength again. Her journey doesn't disappoint.
Ms. Alender is a master in the art of subtly. You'd think a character completely changing who she is would be a huge red flag and easy to detect but I can't pinpoint when Alexis went from bad to cursed. Even though this is a first person narrative, her priorities and tone changing is so subtle that before you know it, she is a completely different narrator with only hints of the girl we know and love. Still using sight, sound, and sense to play with emotions and amp up the fright level, this novel is scary in an entirely new way. Though there isn't a physical presence of an antagonist, the fact that it was coming from within was enough to make it really truly scary. And just when you feel like you can't take anymore tension, a line jumps out to make you laugh before layering a new threat on thicker.
One of the most interesting aspects of this novel once again was the dynamic between Kasey and Alexis. Freshly out of the mental institution and hopping right into high school, Kasey is not the same girl she was in the beginning of the series and Alexis really doesn't know how to deal with her. I loved watching Kasey mature through this novel and to see Alexis's learn to lean on Kasey a little bit more. With their relationship always being Lexi taking care of Kasey, it was nice to see Kasey stepping up to the plate to show Lexi that she can carry some of the burden. There is a scene where Kasey cleans up Alexis in a bathtub that is partly touching and partly horrifying. It brings an entirely new layer to their complex relationship as sisters.
Generally speaking, I'm not big on plot since I'm willing to go for most things if I like the characters enough. And I really like these characters who continue to break through from their stereotypes in order to come alive on the page. But this story had a complex plot that will have you flipping the pages faster just to figure it out. The clues are sprinkled in so well that you don't really know what's happening until it does and I didn't even have time to try and reason out what was going to happen because I was so addicted to the words on the page. I caught the twists and turns only when the character did and I felt compelled to read "just one more chapter" until the 400+ pages melted into nothing in my hands.
Alexis's voice is believable, her journey long and winding but it doesn't feel like it. The ending reaches out for one final scare and will have the reader clamoring for the next novel. Even better than the first, with an entirely new kind of enemy and the same cast of familiar characters, From Bad To Cursed is a masterpiece. From its first fright to the last, it's scary good!