To Slay a Curse Review + Interview With Author

A parasitic monster. A timid young woman. A deadly inner world.
Giselle is cursed. A monster lives within her, preying upon her mind. She sees no hope for her future when thoughts disappear as they form, and every small pleasure is met with a fit of pain. Then her closest friend offers her a single, harrowing chance at freedom. Terrified that failure is inevitable, but desperate for the life stolen from her, she sets out to slay her curse armed with a magical talisman. Now, the girl who can’t do anything right must defeat the beast within before her dreamsnare fills, or risk dying trapped in her own mind. 

This book reminded me a lot of one of my WIP’s. Same curse idea, almost, and with the same intention of bringing to light mental health struggles.

I liked this book, but I can’t say that I loved it. Maybe it’s because of the first person present tense, which I’m personally not a fan of. I guess I expected a lot of depth to this story that wasn’t there. It’s nice for an easy read, though it deals with deep topics, but it was hard to really get into the story. The characters were challenging to keep apart due to lack of physical description and while dialogue was easy to follow, none of them really had a distinct voice except for Ami, Deveron of course, and the Creative One. The main aspects that stood out to me when reading were the inkwell spiders and the dream snare. I missed a lack of world-building and the descriptions were mediocre. Many times when reading, I was given a brief description of a place without more details to truly satisfy me. However, I know that there are a lot of readers out there who prefer that style, so it’s fine. Just personally I was disappointed in that. And I would have liked to see more characterization, something to make the characters stand out sharp in my mind. But, I did like the allegory, especially towards the end, though in real life mental health isn’t necessarily something that goes away forever, it’s something you have to keep fighting. For the book’s sake, though, it made sense and the ending made me happy. 🙂 I can’t give more details about why because spoilers, but I enjoyed it. Honestly the book reminded me of one of my best friends’ style of writing and it was hard to keep straight in my head that it was Rae writing it, and not my other friend. xD

I might read this book again and try to see if I enjoy it more the second time around, but I had difficulty, personally, really getting into the story because there was a lack of depth. However, as a debut, it is a good start for a writer and I look forward to seeing more from Rae!

And now, for the interview, which was so much fun! The questions will be in bold and the answers in normal type.

1. What was the main inspiration for To Slay a Curse?

This actually started as a short story assignment in college. We were asked to identify something that hindered our writing, personify it as a monster, and then write an interaction between the monster and another character. I always had trouble coming up with my initial idea: choosing my research topic, formulating a thesis statement, or taking the given prompt and personalizing it for a short story. And hence, Devoron was born! Once I had idea-sucking parasite, the mind-world came naturally and everything flowed from there.

Ooh, that sounds really neat! I love it how a simple college assignment ended up birthing your first book!

2. How did you stay motivated while writing (and later publishing) it?

To be honest, I really wasn’t great at that. I’d work myself to exhaustion and then ditch for months at a time 😅 But the biggest thing was just getting involved in a good writing community. (Hello, my Realmies!) Once I had those friends I could ask for advice and geek out with I felt so much more capable and inspired to actually do the thing.

I agree, communities are so crucial to keep each other inspired.

3. Which character from To Slay a Curse would you be okay with being quarantined in a house together and why?

That’d have to be Ami! I mean, she has the potential to drive me up the wall, but at least there’d always be a new game to play or cookie to bake. You wouldn’t get bored easily with her around!

Haha, I think I would choose Ami too! She was very fun and spirited.

4. Which scene do you wish you could experience yourself as a character?

Ooof, gotta be really vague here to avoid spoilers 😂 But I have this one chapter near the end I’ve dubbed my Lucy/Aslan AU that I would love to drop into. And there are several Giselle/Eamon scenes I wouldn’t mind experiencing either 😉

Oh yes! I remember reading that part and thinking of Lucy and Aslan! And of course, what author doesn’t want to experience a ship scene… 😉

5. What is To Slay a Curse‘s aesthetic?

Woods, for obvious reasons, and it’s very cottagecore 😄

Sounds beautiful!

6. What made you decide to self-publish?

I liked the idea of self-publishing from the start! I have several good friends who freelance for edits, cover design, and such and I wanted the ability to work with them and go at my own pace. I just wasn’t sure I had the know how or resources to manage it. Lets face it, publishing comes with a pretty hefty price-tag. Plus, my dad’s an accountant, so you can guess how that went 🙈 So, I pitched a couple times at Realm Makers and got some truly great feedback, but ultimately no hits. I debated submitting to a few other indie press I’d heard could be a good fit but decided against it. When I took into account the effort required to research publishers/agents, write up queries, all the uncertainty while waiting for a response, and the prospect of still managing a good deal of marketing and such myself … I just decided I’d rather put that energy into working with friends and making what I considered more forward progress. So I saved up and studied, nearly worked myself to death 😜 , and here we are!

And hey, self-publishing can be successful too! Besides, I think To Slay a Curse turned out just fine for being self-published.

And last but not least…

7. What is something you could tell your younger writing self?

Two big ones here. First, I’d tell myself to take more mental health breaks but don’t let them last so long you’ve essentially given up. Second, stop overthinking each word and just get a full draft out. You can overthink during edits 😉

I think both of those are great, especially me dealing with mental health issues because I didn’t take enough breaks. And as an overthinker, that second point is crucial. I doubt I’ll be able to put it into practice though… xD

And that’s it for the interview! Thanks so much, Rae, for agreeing to this!

Links to the book and contact with Rae are below!

A proud Hufflepuff and hard-core Tolkienite, Rae weaves fantastical tales filled with heart and hope for the YA reader. If you can catch her without her nose in a book or a pen in hand, she would be more than thrilled to share in an adventure or relax with a chai and chat. After growing up in several countries across Asia, she is now happily settled on the banks of the great Mississippi with her family.

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