A major historical novel from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation) - an eerie, unforgettable story of possession, power, and loss in early-20th-century Princeton, a cultural crossroads of the powerful and the damned.
Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the 20th century: a tranquil place to raise a family, a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at the edges of the town, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent. A powerful curse besets the elite families of Princeton; their daughters begin disappearing. A young bride on the verge of the altar is seduced and abducted by a dangerously compelling man - a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince who might just be the devil, and who spreads his curse upon a richly deserving community of white Anglo-Saxon privilege. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.
When the bride's brother sets out against all odds to find her, his path will cross those of Princeton's most formidable people, from Grover Cleveland, fresh out of his second term in the White House and retired to town for a quieter life, to soon-to-be commander in chief Woodrow Wilson, president of the university and a complex individual obsessed to the point of madness with his need to retain power; from the young Socialist idealist Upton Sinclair to his charismatic comrade Jack London, and the most famous writer of the era, Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain - all plagued by "accursed" visions.
An utterly fresh work from Oates, The Accursed marks new territory for the masterful writer. Narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling supernatural elements to stunning effect.
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Not for the typical Horror fan
The story. It was incredibly multi-faceted, and made me feel more connected to characters that are otherwise unattainable in our present. Upton Sinclair, Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, Jack London, Woodrow Wilson are just a few people who appear in Oates' book. I loved that I was listening to canon-worthy gothic novel.
Puss and Upton Sinclair were the stars of the book for me. Though, Puss doesn't last though the whole book. Upton Sinclair provides a sense of moral concreteness in line with what most of us believe in today, and acted as the voice of reason for the present day readers, as well as serving as a contrast to the conservative bigotry of the early 20th century.
Odd, uncanny, imperfect
Upton Sinclair, mostly because he is a powerful (yet meek) voice in the novel. Perhaps I just "heard" him more because I fall in line philosophically more than other characters.
If you are looking for a horror novel, this is not it. However, if you enjoy well-written literature that is rich with history and meaning, but also delves into the gothic, this is the book for you. To get through this book you must possess more than a desire to be frightened. If you are intrigued by dysfunction, love history, and get a kick out of the mystical (in addition to possessing some literary prowess) then read this book. I personally loved it, and even found myself frightened at times (like the violent scene featuring Copplestone). I implore you, if you are a true literature lover (not book lover, but literature lover) read this book. It is incredible, and worth the decades of effort Oates put into it.
Social Issues Abound in Mixed Genre--