by Steven E. Wedel
Moon Howler Press 2017
Love Curse is a coming of age story predominantly centering around four teens from the small town of Windy Acres, Oklahoma. We soon meet Ashley, a small town girl who keeps herself pretty well adjusted. A top achieving academic, she enjoys blending in with her school’s choir group though she wouldn’t really call any of them friends. She prefers to hang with her true besties, Jen and Anna. The three of them have known each other forever and their friendship and has always been a source of trust and safety, a sanctuary where even Anna, for all her gothed out angsty ways, is free to be comfortable in her own skin. They would soon learn, however, life has a way of taking best laid plans and turning them upside down. Ashley never thought she’d be dating the notorious pot smoking outcast, Keith who claims to have had an epiphany and is committed to changing his bad boy ways. Nor could any of them have expected something as unassuming as the little black spell book Anna found at an estate sale would prove to be so evil to so many.
Ashley knows Anna can be morose and more than a little cynical at times, but even her worst nightmares couldn’t have prepared her for just how far Anna was willing to go to avenge all the boys who ever did her wrong. Between Jen and Anna cutting her out of their newly minted social circle of two and being forced to analyse Keith’s true nature and intentions, Ashley is left with way more questions than answers. By the time images of winged demons invade her dreams and those around her start to turn on each other as if pulled by invisible strings, Ashley must make the hardest decisions of her life. She can only hope it will be enough to save her loved ones and everyone else in Windy Acres before an ancient darkness consumes them all.
Alternating points of view between Ashley and Keith, author Steve Wedel has no doubt tapped into his own personal experiences as both teacher and father. The author accurately portraits the mindset and tribulations of a typical teen growing up in the new millennium. Keeping it as real as it gets, we’re met with honest depictions of awkward gestures, clumsy learning curves and some mild scenes of sexuality that manages to keep it above the belt. But make no mistake. Steve pulls few punches and when the story arch reaches its fevered pitch we’re forced to trust in the collective efforts of kids wise beyond their years who must struggle to survive and defeat an entity they barely understand.
Love Curse is Steve Wedel’s second young adult novel following After Obsession, co-written with New York Times best selling author Carrie Jones. Considering how fast the pages turned right up until its heart pounding final act, I for one hope it won’t be his last. A fun, frenetic read for all ages.