The Accursed

Editorial reviews

The Accursed

The Accursed is a big, mad, colourful romp, respectful of the literary traditions in which it participates, leavened with a piquant humour.

"The Accursed" triumphantly fulfills its gothic mandate to make our skin crawl, but it also accomplishes the much more difficult task of frightening us with its ideas.

An infuriating, enthralling, camply Gothic tale of a supernatural curse affecting the area around Princeton University between 1900 and 1910.

Oates’s hypnotic prose has never been better displayed than it is in the book’s final fabulism, which concerns a game of checkers between a brave child and a demon who cheats at every opportunity

This is a deliciously gothic novel – think Henry James meets Edgar Allan Poe – and a glorious pastiche of too many genres to mention.

With its vast scope, its mingling of comic and tragic tones, its omnivorous gorging on American literature, and especially its complex reflection on the major themes of our history, “The Accursed” is the kind of outrageous masterpiece only Joyce Carol Oates could create.

Though it requires some work and has a wintry feel to it, it’s oddly entertaining, as a good supernatural yarn should be.

In Oates' hands, this supernatural tale becomes a meditation on the perils of parochial thinking.