Caroline George’s latest release, Curses and Other Buried Things, is a haunting tale that takes readers into the depths of the Okefenokee Swamp, bewitching them until the last page.
With her exceptional storytelling, Caroline George skillfully blends dark YA with thrilling suspense and rich folklore in Curses and Other Buried Things. Through her masterful narrative, this thought-provoking novel explores the power of words, the weight of generational curses, and the journey toward breaking free from the shackles of our past.
“Blood holds all kinds of curses.” ~ Caroline George
Synopsis: Seven generations of women in Susana Prather’s family have been lost to the Georgia swamp behind her house. The morning after her eighteenth birthday, she awakens soaked with water, with no memory of sleepwalking. No matter how she tries to stop it, she’s pulled from her safe bed night after night, haunted by her own family history and legacy. Now, the truth feels unavoidable: it’s only a matter of time before she loses her mind and the swamp becomes her grave.
Unless she can figure out how to break the curse.
When she isn’t sleepwalking, she’s dreaming of her great-great-great-great-grandmother, Suzanna Yawn, who set the curse in motion in 1855. Her ancestor’s life bears such similarity to her own that it might hold the key she seeks. Or it might only foretell tragedy.
As Susana seeks solutions in the past and the present, family members hold secrets tighter to their chests, friends grow distant, and old flames threaten to sputter and die. But Susana has something no one else has been able to seize: the unflagging belief that all curses can be broken and that love can help a new future begin.
“What if the past has bled into the present? What if my life is nothing more than Suzanna’s story reimagined? I need the water’s relief.” ~ Caroline George
While curses typically bring witches and magic to mind, this novel cleverly explores how curses are used in our everyday language. As it says in James 3:9-10, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.”
I’ll be honest; it took me time to understand the meaning behind Curses and Other Buried Things. I was so focused on Susanna’s curse and sleepwalking that I failed to grasp the impactful, real-life lessons and issues written within the story until I reached the author’s note. Caroline George’s words explaining her motivation to write this novel hit me like a punch in the gut, causing me to return to the beginning to re-analyze the characters through a brighter lens. It’s so easy to get lost in the words on a page, but the spaces between the lines often speak the loudest… if we let them.
“Everyone has their curses, Susana, except not all of us get the chance to break them.” ~ Caroline George
Written in a dual timeline, Curses and Other Buried Things seamlessly transitions between Susana Prather’s present-day struggles and the life of her ancestor, Suzanna Yawn, in the 1800s. Reinforcing the central theme of forging a brighter future without allowing fear to withhold you from the people you love, the characters brought these elements to life with their growth, strength, and love. Watching Susana transform into a young woman was a rewarding experience. As she confronted the past, tested the boundaries, and fell in love, I got to witness the power of reliving our family’s history but not letting our ancestors’ mistakes affect the outcome of our lives.
Masterfully unraveling her own family’s history in the backdrop of this novel, Caroline George’s personal experiences added to her fantastic writing as she captured the essence of the setting. I could hear the characters’ southern twang in my ears as they spoke and feel the humid air on my brow as I followed the protagonists in their fight for freedom.
“He gazed at her as though she was more than curses and war.” ~ Caroline George
Curses and Other Buried Things is so much more than a dark YA novel; it’s a profound reminder that the past does not define you, nor does your bloodline. I love what Caroline George declared at the end of her author’s note, “I will not continue the cycle. I am not defined by my generational curses and trauma, not the pain, addiction, neglect, abandonment, and so on. I forgive the past, but I will not live there. I choose freedom, and so can you.”
Freedom is within reach; will you take hold of it?
*Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing me with a pre-release copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.*
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