Review: The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank

Posted June 8, 2014 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 78 Comments

Review: The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank
The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank
Published by 47north
Published on: November 19 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 312
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
One Star
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The wall between our world and that of vengeful spirits has protected humanity for more than 400 years. It’s about to come crashing down.

Ellie Lancaster has lived her whole life by the site of the mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Virginia settlement that vanished without a trace around 1590. Only the descendants of the two men who banished the spirits of an enemy tribe from the material realm know what really happened to the colony. Ellie is one of those descendants—a Curse Keeper. Her father took pains to teach her what he knew of the curse and the responsibilities of its guardians. He taught her that if the two Curse Keepers ever meet, the curse will be lifted, the gate will open, and the raging Native American spirits will be unleashed to seek their revenge.

Despite her father’s seriousness, Ellie has always taken the legend for a harmless fairy tale. Until she meets the darkly handsome, but downright infuriating, Collin Dailey and realizes everything she was told is true. For when they meet, it’s like the air is sucked from the room. Collin’s presence is electrifying… and it’s not just attraction Ellie feels, but the inexorable pull toward her destiny. The prophecy is real, and now Ellie and Collin must battle supernatural forces and their loathing—and passion—for each other to set things right.

The Curse Keepers are all that stand between the world and its destruction.


There are a couple of things that immediately get my attention when I’m checking out new books.

It’s no secret that I love the Fae, but they’re a popular enough subject that I’ve had to start screening (lots-o-books = lots-o-potentially BAD books) .

Know what I love that doesn’t have a surplus of books written about it?

Native American folklore.

Yep, there’s Jane Yellowrock and Mercy Thompson, both of which I LOVE, and there’s Walker Papers (do not love), and that’s about it. I’m sure there are a few more that I forgot, but the point is that there are far fewer of these kind of books than my other FAEvorite (HA!) subject, so I get far more excited when I hear about a new one. AND I’m from North Carolina, so toss in the Lost Colony, and there’s not much that could keep me from that book.

Would that there was.

The Curse Keepers was filled so full of bad cliché awfulness that I wondered a time or two if it was a parody and I somehow hadn’t gotten the memo.

Ellie is like a bad impersonation of Sookie Stackhouse.

“But I didn’t like Sookie Stackhouse that much to begin with,” you say.

Funny, neither did I (the secondary characters are what made those books so great IMO). Oh, she grew on me, and I never absolutely loathed her (though I know that some of you did), but Sookie definitely had her faults. She was just . . . such a girl sometimes. And by “girl” I mean stereotypically female. But I didn’t hate Sookie, b/c she could buck-up and do what needed doing. She was clever. She grew up hearing people’s thoughts, so she accepted the (obvious) existence of other supernatural creatures without batting and eye.

Ellie was all of the bad Sookie parts, none of the good, and all of those bad parts were exaggerated.

She wants to marry a rich man, so she doesn’t have to worry about money. She refuses to work with the other Curse Keeper (their meeting is what triggers the curse), b/c he’s rude to her, even though it’s THE WORLD that’s at stake. She grew up learning about the curse of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, was taught to be ever vigilant, and yet, when she sees the undeniable proof of the things she was told as a child, she absolutely refuses to believe it.

And once the prophesied curse is set in motion, she and Collin (other Curse Keeper) have seven days to close the gates of the Underworld/Afterlife/whatever, and SAVE THE WORLD, but Ellie keeps waitressing and doing friggin’ laundry at her family’s B&B, b/c “it’s not real.”

And Collin?

Well, he’s, of course, a smokin’ hot, womanizing manwhore. A smokin’ hot, womanizing manwhore who is not even remotely interested in Ellie that way.

Oh wait . . . yes, he is . . . she’s his one true love. *bats eyelashes*

But, wasn’t he completely disgusted with her only a day or so ago? The airhead waitress who didn’t take her responsibility to the gods seriously? The girl who was unprepared to fulfill her sacred duty? The girl who PAWNED her holy hand grenade, I mean ancient relic?

Speaking of Monty Python, the gods who are trying to escape the gates of the Underworld/Afterlife/whatever have messengers. Messengers who appear as balls of light and BOOM out demands in a way that was vaguely reminiscent of God appearing in the clouds to send Arthur on his quest to find the holy grail . . .

Except in Monty Python and the Holy Grail it was funny.

Not so much here. Just one more silly thing to throw on top of the heap of silly things. Silly things like repeating the same sentiments over and over again . . .

Ellie and Collin didn’t exactly get off to a great start, so Collin suggests they start over. Only that start didn’t go so well either, so Collin suggests they begin anew. Only that beginning . . .

Yeah, that happened at least four times. In fact, it happened every, single day until they started having sex, so apparently that was what Collin thought of as “the right foot.” And I lost count of the times he asked her if she was an angel or an enchantress<——P-U-K-E.

GAH, I just really, really hate this book. Patio furniture is more entertaining than Ellie, and probably smarter too. Collin is detestable, until suddenly, he’s the perfect, doting boyfriend, and the plot is so predictable that I could have stopped reading halfway in, and still have been able to tell you EXACTLY what was going to happen. Not recommended.

Jessica Signature

One Star

My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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78 responses to “Review: The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank

  1. *shudders*
    This sounds AWFUL! I know what you mean about there not being many books involving native american folklore out there which is why it sucks even more that this was such a huge disappointment with annoying ass characters and INSTA-LOVE (ewwwwww).

    Fantastic review as always, Jess!!!! <3

    • Thanks, lovely. And yes, that is EXACTLY why this sucks even more than it would ordinarily. I mean, really—a great premise is half the battle . . . but sadly, ONLY half of the battle.

  2. Starting over… four times?! Yeah, no thanks. Haha, Anything repetitive gets on my nerves and will bother me until the book ends. I hope you read something better soon, Jessica!

  3. wrkreads  

    This sounds so bad it’s amazing you didn’t hurt yourself on eyes rolls. And how would you explain that injury? lol

  4. This one was different and I really wanted to love it but couldn’t, which is why I never picked up the ARC of book two. It had it’s good moments but a lot of blah ones as well.

    Wonderful honest review Jessica!

  5. You know when I saw the series I was really intrigued but well too many books and it wasn’t my priority. Now I’m glad I didn’t take it. I’m sorry ti wasn’t for you Jessica, It’s sad when it ends like that.

    • It it sad. Especially when it looked so promising. I’m like you—I have SO many books to read, so when I end up wasting time like with this one . . . I get annoyed. BUT glad to save you the trouble 😉

  6. This looked like one I probably would have picked up – I need to go to good reads next and make sure its not on my tbr… Not a thing you described wouldn’t also bother me. Might as well not waste my time! But your review was a great read. LMAO!!

    • Thanks, Berls! And yeah, a lot of the situations in this book were laughable. The main reason that I finished it was b/c I KNEW this was a book that a lot of my friends would be interested in, and I was determined to finish it, review it, and save them from the same fate 😉

  7. Oh, fate kept me from picking this up..I was already overbooked for the release week, but I wanted it. Now, after reading your review I am pretty sure I would have made this a DNF. I am so sorry and wow kudos to you for finishing it!

  8. Oh my goodness, at first I was like, Native American lore and a comparison to Mercy Thompson in your review, I must read this! Plus it’s 47North and I was like, hmm, I wonder what their UF is like. Then I saw your rating. And the horrible stuff about the characters. Ugh, how disappointing! I can’t stand off-the-wall annoying characters, so thanks for the warning.

    • See, that’s what I thought too. This book makes an EXCELLENT first impression. But it’s all downhill from there. I’m not totally writing off 47North, b/c I have read decent books from them, but I’m thinking that’s kind of a fluke, so I’ll be MUCH more selective in the future.

  9. Oh my I’m going to stay clear. Thank’s Jessica. I really do hate it when a book has everything you enjoy, but turns out to be bah! I enjoy a lot of the same things you do; Fae & Native American lore. I love love love Mercy Thompson still have not read Jane Yellowrock though I do have it on my TBR.

    • Jane Yellowrock is fantastic. Especially if you like Native American folklore. It’s exceptionally well done in that series. Here . . . aside from the curse being Native American in origin, there really isn’t much else. More like standard interpretations of pagan rituals that got Native American slapped on them b/c it’s supposed to be about . . . Native Americans . . . blah.

  10. Christy  

    LOL – I think I got more entertainment from your review than I would from the book. I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up anyway unless there were some damn good compelling reasons to. I would say that I feel bad that you wasted your time on it, but your pain brought me too many chuckles.:P

    • Christy . . . you’re all heart. LOL. Glad some good came out of this stupid crap and trash 😉 And I thought Native American lore and Lost Colony were compelling reasons. But I was so very wrong.

  11. I was SO interested in what you had to say because I could not even finish this book. I COULD NOT DO IT. I was started to have eye spasms from all of the rolling they were doing. I am impressed at your ability to persevere. LOL

    • This book gave me a rather twitchy eye as well. SO much bad, and all in one place. Did Ellie remind you of Sookie too? And thanks. It is an accomplishment to have finished, I think. (I kind of felt like I had to, b/c I got over zealous in the NetGalley requests and got approved not only for this one, but the next one too—now I can DNF book 2 with a clear conscience 😉 ).

      • I think she was much more annoying than sookie. Especially for this being book ONE. I just couldn’t help thinking this book reminding me of TWO whiny teenagers. GAH. I got it from Netgalley too and I was going to try to finish it…knowing it didn’t get any better does not give me any hope.

      • No, it gets WORSE. If the beginning had been as bad as the end, I wouldn’t have been able to finish, guilt or no guilt. And that’s exactly what I thought too—an infinitely more annoying version of Sookie.

  12. Bah! lol I liked this one a little bit and wanted to give the second book a try but I cant seem to get myself to read the second one and now I remember why lol. Great review and I totally agree, I loved things about this one and disliked them. Its a hard one.

    • Yeah, that happens to me sometimes too, LOL. I’ll even try to motivate myself to read the next book, and somehow it just never happens. Thanks! And it is hard when you like to concept, but not the execution. Hard and disappointing.

      • Totally! I’ve read series all the way through and love them and the last book ended up ruining it for me. I think I like when series are 3 books and then are done, the longer ones always worry me a haha

      • I get you. Obviously, with the Sookie comparison, I’ve read those books, and that was a series that could have done with a few less installments, but then I think about Kate Daniels, and if there were only 3 books in that series, I would be very, very sad.

  13. I wish upon you many more bad books so I can get more reviews like this one. Once done the books can be hit by holy hand grenades so they can provide you with entertainment as well.

  14. jenniferbielman  

    Clichés are the worst in writing. You are so right, there are amazing series with Jane and Mercy that reading a bad version of those does not sound fun. Sorry it sucked so much.

  15. Oh no, one star! I don’t see that too often from you, so I know this is SERIOUS BUSINESS. I’m sorry this was such a failure for you.

    I know Kate really likes an UF series featuring a Native American character/themes–I have to ask her what that was so I can tell you about it. I don’t think it’s one of the ones you mention above.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • I think the series that Kate likes is Allyson James’ Stormwalker . . . or some kind of walker. Unfortunately, I don’t like that series either. It’s no where near as bad as this one, but . . . yeah, I had issues with it. Sometimes it works that way though—things that drive one reader batty, aren’t issues at all for another reader, and a lot of people seem to like that series . . .

  16. I’ve read this author’s contemporary NA stuff and oh my word, those books just got progressively worse. And by worse, I mean…DISMAL. When I read After Math, I came off a string of awful books, which made AM seemed glorious I decided to read the other books in the series and IT.WAS.PAINFUL. The heroine’s were weak, in search of a man with money but then they realize they don’t want a man with money but the one the end up with has a TON.OF.MONEY. GAH!!! Why do authors do that? Why must they create these female characters that are so trite? It’s just irritating.

    This is one of those times when the author has broken my trust.

    PS: stunning review! ♥ 🙂

    • Thanks. No really. I’m having trouble working up any enthusiasm b/c I’m so disgusted that the heroine-in-search-of-a-sugar-daddy wasn’t a one-time fluke. BOOOOO, Cristina, just BOOOOO. I don’t know why author’s do that, but it makes me HATE the ones that do. But good to know. I’m glad I won’t fall into another of Ms. Swank’s traps. Still trying to work up some enthusiasm and still can’t do it b/c still disgusted. If you could see my face right now, you would LAUGH. Now, I’m laughing. That’s better. So thank you! For the warning AND the compliment 😉

  17. OMG, did we read the same book Jessica?! LOL, I’m so sorry this one did not work for you, because as you know I kind of loved it. I’ve never read the sookie books so I can’t compare, and I just didn’t feel the same about your reasons listed. I actually kind of swooned over the romance, and liked both characters as well as the mystery. I have to admit my heart dropped when I saw the one star *sad face* but, I love the points you listed despite feeling different about them. 🙂

    • If we didn’t that would certainly explain it, LOL. And yeah, sometimes even when two people typically like the same things, it just doesn’t work for one of them. But (clearly) you aren’t alone in liking it, b/c it has a fairly high rating on goodreads. The was just one of those weird situations where ALL the things rubbed me the wrong way.

  18. Hmmmm. I think maybe I’ll take a pass on this one. I definitely struggled with Sookie in the beginning books, but like you, she grew on me, so I think I’ll likely struggle with Ellie as well. Maybe as the series continues she’ll lose some of that stick-your-head-in-the-sand-and-all-your-problems-will-go-away mentality and buck up:) Here’s hoping!

    • Here’s hoping, indeed. But I can tell you one thing—it will not be me who makes that determination. No way. No how. This book just did not work for me at all, and then Cristina went and said that gold-digging was a reoccurring theme in this author’s books, so yeah, no.

  19. It appealed to me when you mention The Lost Colony and native american folklore. I read another book that dealt with those subjects and really enjoyed it, so I thought this might be good too. Until….I couldn’t help but laugh as I finished your review. ^_^ Maybe your next book will be better. Happy reading.

    • Thank you, LOL. Yes, I’m much happier with what I’m reading now, and I understand, b/c that’s the same trap that I fell into. I mean, really? Lost Colony . . . Native American folklore . . . how could that not be awesome? Now I know 😉

  20. Cliche is not a word I like seeing in reviews and this story seem to be full of it. I totally understand why you didn’t like it and it’s drive me crazy really. Too bad I hoped it would be interesting because of Native American folklore but well one can only hope. Great review, Jessica 🙂

  21. Well my patio furniture is fucking awesome!! I love to stare at it for hours! >.<

    Not really. I,m not weird I promise. Well not always.

    So this book sounds like a train wreck O_O "The Curse Keepers was filled so full of bad cliché awfulness that I wondered a time or two if it was a parody and I somehow hadn’t gotten the memo." Bahaha! I've actually read a few that I could say this about in the last few months too. WTF is happening lately are authors all high on some weird drug shit where they think this is good stuff?

    "Oh wait . . . yes, he is . . . she’s his one true love. " Well of course. Because every asshole finds his soulmate in a book!

    "And I lost count of the times he asked her if she was an angel or an enchantress<——P-U-K-E." BAHAHAHA I'm gonna go now before I die of barf!

    • Don’t get me wrong, I like patio furniture too. In fact, one of my favorite things to do when I visit my parents is hang out on the deck b/c awesome patio furniture . . . but am I entertained by the patio furniture? NO. It’s a good place to plant my behind. I don’t want my books to be a good place to plant my behind, LOL. And most of the crap books I’ve read lately are from smaller/new imprints or AMAZON, and Amazon seriously needs to throw some of that weight around and headhunt some decent editors b/c this was just awful.

      At least we can laugh about it afterwards, right?

  22. :))) I’m probably awful to say this, but I almost enjoy your reviews of books you didn’t like more than the ones for those you did :)) Gawd, though, it doesn’t sound appealing at all. Too bad, looked like it might have a lot of potential 🙁

  23. bookwormbrandee  

    LOL I love that you can make a negative review so entertaining, Jessica! 😉 I was glad to see you review this one because I thought it had a lot of potential. Now I know not to waste my precious reading time. 🙂 I’m sorry you lost time on it – although you DID entertain your readers with the review! 😉

    • EXACTLY. Precious reading time. WASTED. But yeah, glad to save you from that fate. Honestly, that’s the only reason I finished. So far, I haven’t posted any DNF reviews on here, so if I want to get the word out . . . gotta finish the terrible book 😉 And thanks!

  24. Michele

    Ugh. Just icky poo wrongness here. That deceitful little synopsis! While I do love Sookie Stackhouse, I certainly don’t want to meet a character that is made up of all her “bad parts”! And Collin — I already want to punch him in the junk. So sorry this one was such a disappointment. It’s the bad ones like this that make us truly appreciate the good ones! Thank you for the honest review!

  25. ha ha ha Jessica you crack me up. Kudos to actually finishing the book. I might have been clawing my eyes out if I felt the way you felt. I actually couldn’t believe it when I saw a 1 paw rating.. I knew I would have to read this review!!!

    It sucks when it sounds like a book has such great potential and then just falls flat. Hope your next read is better!!

    Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.
    Chene Sterckx recently posted…Book Review: Son of Set (Descendants of Isis #2) by Kelsey Ketch