Oates has written a Gothic whodunit loaded with historical wonderings, romantic intrigue psychological pondering and more than a little humor - even a bit of slapstick from Jack London, Upton Sinclair and Teddy Roosevelt, all done with the charm and nuance that make Oates one of the best of the best. “Our lives can only be interpreted in retrospect, yet must be lived from day to day, blindly.”: So says Josiah Slade, the intrepid hero of the tale seeking to avenge the honor of his sister or know the reason why. It is Princeton, New Jersey, 1905, and the new industrialism is creeping up like women’s hemlines when Annabel Slade is carried off by a toad-like yet compelling lothario named Axson Mayte who seems to have cast a spell over the entire community. Mayte takes her to the murky Bog Kingdom where demons dance a merry dance, Annabel suffers and people wonder what happened. Did demons really help found Princeton University? Eventually it is made clear in true melodramatic style that will keep you guessing until the end.
— Richard, Pittsburgh
Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century: a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at its edges, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent and a powerful curse besets the families of the elite–their daughters begin disappearing. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.
When a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince, who might just be the devil, abducts a young bride on the verge of the altar, her brother sets out against all odds to find her. His path will cross those of Princeton's most formidable people, including Grover Cleveland, fresh out of his second term in the White House, soon-to-be commander in chief Woodrow Wilson, a complex individual obsessed to the point of madness with his need to retain power, the young idealist Upton Sinclair and his charismatic comrade Jack London, and the most famous writer of the era, Mark Twain–all of whom are plagued by "accursed" visions.
About the Author
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been several times nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. Her most recent novel is A Book of American Martyrs. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.
“Joyce Carol Oates has written what may be the world’s finest postmodern Gothic novel: E.L. Doctorow’s ‘Ragtime’ set in Dracula’s castle. It’s dense, challenging, problematic, horrifying, funny, prolix and full of crazy people. You should read it... Oates’s hypnotic prose has never been better displayed.” — Stephen King, New York Times Book Review (Cover Review)
“Spectacular. . . 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.” — Ron Charles, Washington Post
“A brilliant Gothic mystery that has the punch of historical fiction. Currents of race, class and academic intrigue swirl under the surface, but it’s the demonic curse that propels the action... Oates casts a powerful spell. You’ll close The Accursed and want to start it all over again.” — People (4 Stars)
“The Accursed is a unique, vast multilayered narrative; a genre bending beast of a book, utterly startling from start to finish, compulsive and engaging, the writing crackling with energy and wit. This is an elaborately conceived work.” — New York Review of Books
“[The Accursed] is in addition to being a thrilling tale in the best gothic tradition, a lesson in master craftsmanship...The story sprawls, reaches, demands, tears, and shrieks in homage to the traditional gothic, yet with fresh, surprising twists and turns... Oates has given us a brilliantly crafted work .” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Carefully and densely plotted, chockablock with twists and turns and fleeting characters, her novel offers a satisfying modern rejoinder to the best of M.R. James—and perhaps even Henry James.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Oates’ atmospheric prose beautifully captures the flavor of gothic fiction . . . In Oates’ hands, this supernatural tale becomes a meditation on the perils of parochial thinking. It demands we think - with monsters - about our failure to face the darkest truths about ourselves and the choices we’ve made.” — NPR
“A lush, arch, and blistering fusion of historical fact, supernatural mystery, and devilish social commentary... A diabolically enthralling and subversive literary mash-up. ” — Booklist (starred review)
“A smart and relentlessly absorbing read.” — Library Journal
“Joyce Carol Oates is at her gothic best… an astonishing fever dream of a novel.” — Los Angeles Times
“For those who enjoy total immersion in this kind of historical fiction, The Accursed is good fun, as mesmerizing as a demon and as addictive as a patent cure.” — Boston Globe
“A fascinating novel in which historical truth and imagination collide to create an unsettling vision of America as it entered the 20th century.” — Columbus Dispatch
“The Accursed blends history, horror, fantasy and black comedy into a trippy literary brew. For fans of Oates’ gothic works, this is a heady draught indeed.” — Dallas Morning News
“Regular readers of Oates will be familiar with the game. . . after [new readers make] their way through The Accursed, no one will find it easy to forget.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Joyce Carol Oates is at the top of her game in her glorious new novel, THE ACCURSED - a long, lush account of perhaps-preternatural happenings in Princeton, N.J., a century ago.” — Buffalo News
“This latest effort looks like a belated candidate for the Great Oates Novel . . . The Accursed is a big, mad, colourful romp, respectful of the literary traditions in which it participates, leavened with a piquant humour.” — Financial Times
“The Accursed is very much in the American gothic tradition of Charles Brockden Brown, Hawthorne, Poe, and Faulkner.” — New York Review of Books
“In this new novel Oates has achieved a nearly flawless combination of postmodernism, gothic horror, “traditional” narrative, politically engaged literature, historical novel, and popular bestseller—a heady and enjoyable mix.” — Harvard Review Online