September 19, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Katy Rose Pool Kicks Off New YA Fantasy Duology With Garden Of The Cursed- Review

Garden Of The Cursed By Katy Rose Pool- Summary

Garden of the Cursed by Katy Rose Pool Goodreads Summary (Review below): In this thrilling YA fantasy/mystery duology from award-winning author Katy Pool, cursebreaker Marlow Briggs reluctantly pretends to be in love with one of the most powerful nobles in Caraza City to gain entry into an illustrious—and deadly—society that holds clues to her mother’s disappearance. Perfect for fans of Veronica MarsThese Violent Delights, and Chain of Iron.

Since fleeing the gilded halls of Evergarden for the muck-filled canals of the Marshes, Marlow Briggs has made a name for herself as the best godsdamn cursebreaker in Caraza City. But no matter how many cases she solves, she is still haunted by the mystery of her mother’s disappearance.

When Adrius Falcrest, Marlow’s old friend and scion of one of Caraza’s most affluent spell-making families, asks her to help break a life-threatening curse, Marlow wants nothing to do with the boy who spurned her a year ago. But a new lead in her mother’s case makes Marlow realize that the only way to get the answers she desperately seeks is to help Adrius and return to Evergarden society—even if it means suffering through a fake love affair with him to avoid drawing suspicion from the conniving Five Families.

As the investigation draws Marlow into a web of deadly secrets and powerful enemies, a shocking truth emerges: Adrius’s curse and her mother’s disappearance may just be clues to an even larger mystery, one that could unravel the very foundations of Caraza and magic itself.

Reviews of Age Of Darkness Series

Before I dive into my rambling love for Garden of the Cursed, let’s revisit the Age of Darkness series. If you are interested, here are my reviews. I was on hiatus when the final book came out, hence no review. But I loved this series with every cell in my being.


There Will Come A Darkness- Review

As The Shadow Rises- Review

Garden Of The Cursed By Katy Rose Pool- Review

First, let’s get this out of the way. Did I love The Age of Darkness more than my life, yes. Is Garden of the Cursed anything like The Age of Darkness? Absolutely not. Is Garden of the Cursed a dazzling kick-off to the Garden of the Cursed duology? HELL YES! So, don’t expect The Age of Darkness, but do expect to be just as swept away.

While Garden of the Cursed runs in the YA Fantasy genre, there is a wonderful mix of genres throughout. It is a fantasy world with a unique magic system, but also features some brutal street gangs and different mysteries driving the plot. The main character, Marlowe, has to do some Bruce Wayne-style detective work to get to the bottom of it all.

Katy Rose Pool

Garden of the Cursed by Katy Rose Pool releases on June 20th

Now here’s the thing I really want to get across without spoiling anything. Katy Rose Pool’s writing in Garden of the Cursed is so compelling that when reveals start hitting in the last third of it? Not only are they whiplash-inducing, but you realize you weren’t even asking the right questions all along. I was so caught up in the story and the mysteries laid out that I forgot to ask or wonder about some key questions, and that made the reveals a double slap. And I may be going backward here, but while I’m talking about the last third of Garden of the Cursed? I vomited some vital organs while reading it (which I’ve now done twice).

Now, let’s rewind. The magic system is unique spell casting that is easy to buy into. The world-building of Caraza City is radiant. From the vermillion skies to the marshes and then Evergarden, Katy Rose Pool delivers in creating a diverse and dynamic world. In addition to spellcasting, I loved how the magic was an interwoven part of Caraza City. From magically laced drinks to all the enchanted things (from drinks to food to clothes to weapons), magic is a part of the structure of Caraza City, not just the magic system.

Katy Rose Pool also utilizes the magic system as an almost currency to show how the politically powerful keep themselves above the commoners. The more clout you have, the more magic you have access to. There are shadow organizations, gangs, and the Noblesse Nouveau (royalty) that are all trying to leverage magic.

ReviewThank you to Macmillian Audio and Henry Holt for an advanced audio (and electronic) copy of Garden of the Cursed.


I mentioned multiple mysteries that drive this fantasy world, and they are numerous. Marlowe (who I will discuss more below) is trying to determine the fate of ballerinas, her mother (who vanished a year ago), and her former best friend/love (who is cursed). This takes her between the common areas of Caraza City to the haughty world of royalty, where she is trying to garner all the information she can. And again, these are the mysteries laid out. By the end of the book, I felt stunned. There were so many other underlying questions that needed answers, and I didn’t even think of them because everything else was so engrossing. Katy Rose Pool had stolen my attention, and she wasn’t giving it back.


Garden Of The Cursed By Katy Rose Pool- Characters

Marlow is a whipper-snapper of a female protagonist. She is a master cursebreaker that has suffered a traumatic loss when her mother vanished a year ago. Marlowe also suffered the loss of her best friend and love, Adrius. Despite being royalty, she believed they had grown close until a sudden back-step by Adrius. Due to her trauma, and losses, Marlowe has become jaded and guarded. It has also coddled a hardness and stubborn streak that serves her well. So, it is a double-sided sword that is well-explored and developed.

Adrius is the rebellious Falcrest family heir. He has that bad-boy and moody temperament about him. Even in his need for Marlowe to help him discover who cursed him and then break that curse, he can be egotistical and aloof. He enjoys making a fool of his family, especially his father while bedding every woman in Caraza City.

Together they provide an enemy to lovers that romance enthusiasts will gobble up. Double down on that if you like when enemies and past interests have to feign an interest in each other. Personally, I enjoyed how they worked together (when they weren’t at each other’s throats) more than the romance. But that is a me thing, completely.

The secondary characters are all captivating. They simultaneously lift up the plot and provide sub-plots that develop throughout Garden of the Cursed and will certainly continue in book two.


Garden Of The Cursed By Katy Rose Pool- Final Thoughts/Audiobook

There isn’t much to say about the audiobook. Since this is told from one point of view and a singular timeline, it is easy to follow, and the narration is excellent.

This is easily one of my favorite books of the year. I knew it would be since I first read it in November (I then listened to it again yesterday and today). I imagine that Garden of the Cursed will make their end-of-year best-of list.

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