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Curselock

Written by Joseph McCoy

Curselock by Joseph McCoy is a fun adventure story with interesting characters, a well thought out backstory, and an intriguing narrative (especially in the second half). I enjoyed book 1 and would recommend it to readers looking for an action-packed story with multiple main characters, interesting abilities, and a few intriguing mysteries.

To start, I found the use of three characters, three best friends, to be an amazing lens with which to tell the story. Their interplay/banter came across as genuine and didn't bog down the narrative or draw me out of the story. If anything, the conversations added a little bit of humour without diving into the realm of absurd or over the top. The author also does a good job at creating unique enough challenges that help each character's personality shine, plus you get to see each best friend look out for each other when things go from bad to worse. Their different personalities helped to keep things interesting narrative-wise. Often enough we're left with one main character doing all the thinking and talking, it was nice to see something different.

The magic system is familiar to follow, while being different enough to be new and interesting. I like the idea of patrons/lords granting unique powers to their followers and am interested in seeing how the power sets progress with the books.

With that said, one of my few gripes with the book was the power set of the main character, Leland. While interesting, where I see some consistency in the berserker and chameleon powers, Leland’s abilities didn't seem to fit together in the same way. Each ability on its own was really cool, but I didn’t see how they tied into the idea of ‘curses’ and I don’t believe they synergized very well. Of course, there might be a larger plan that I as the reader am not aware of, but I would've liked to see a bit more synergy. Each power is also overpowered. To their credit, the author does a great job balancing the OP abilities with the relative weakness of the character, but this will become harder to believe as Leland’s abilities inevitably grow and become even more OP.

The story starts slower than some might like, but I was thoroughly invested in the story by the end and was waiting to see how things would come together – which they did. Though there were typos throughout, the writing was easy to follow and engaging. The locations were unique and the main antagonist was large enough to feel like a real issue, without feeling too burdensome for what is definitely a new 'adventuring' team. Still, the characters had that same worry several times, and I appreciated how often they questioned their own preparedness for what they were trying to face or overcome.

Without giving any spoilers, the final fight was a fun payoff that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

I'd like to finish with two concepts/ideas I loved – both are minor spoilers. The first is one of Leland's abilities. The ability allows him to gain contracts/gifts from 'other' lords, not just his own. This opened up some really cool scenes and I'd love to see that explored more in the future. I like that the ‘gifts’ weren’t massive but were instead used in an impactful way that wasn’t simply: you can now hit harder. The use of this ability was interesting from a narrative perspective, while also opening so many possibilities for the future.

The second is the concept that a chameleon's main ability is to adapt. Adaptation as a concept was a ton of fun to theory craft over. It reminded me of a blue mage, but without as many restrictions. Hard to pull off, but it’s great idea.

Overall, I give the story a 4.1. It has a few ‘issues’, but it’s a fun book that I’m really glad I checked out. More people should give it a read!

Did you pick it up? How did you find it and do you agree with my assessment? Let me know!

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