Review: Cursed by S.J. Harper

October 28, 2013 Reviews 4 Comments

Review: Cursed by S.J. HarperCursed by S.J. Harper
Series: Fallen Siren #1
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Roc on 1 October 2013
Pages: 288
Reading Challenges: 2013 In Uniform Challenge
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star


Emma Monroe is not your average FBI agent. She’s a Siren and her job finding missing people is a way of trying to atone for her past sins. She needs the forgiveness of the goddess Demeter and hopes that at some point, all her good work will help balance the scales in her favour. She has been waiting a few thousand years for her exile to be revoked but redemption could be one case away. Her new partner, werewolf Zack Armstrong, threatens to upset the status quo as they try to locate some missing women.

If you know anything about Greek gods and goddesses, you’ll know that they are vengeful and spiteful creatures, whose emotions run to the extreme. Demeter is still angry that Emma (aka Ligeia) let Persephone fall into the hands of her lustful uncle Hades (ick) and has decided that anyone Emma gets close to will be ripped away from her. Sex and friendship are fine but love is a big no-no. Emma comes across as very worldly – her age means that she has pretty much seen it all – but at the same time quite fragile emotionally. She conceals her real looks and rarely uses her skills to help her blend into the background and stay under Demeter’s radar. There is so much baggage bottled up inside her, I expected her to explode. Zack’s arrival is therefore an unwanted distraction but one she desperately needs.

Zack amused me as he is an organisational nut rather than the usual partly-savage but hot beast in human form. There were problems with his old pack so he transferred to San Diego to work with the one person that made him a better agent and who he had spent a rather enjoyable night with. We get some light humour from the fact he has worked hard to hide his werewolf nature but Emma identified what he was immediately. Zack has his own demons to face and working missing persons is cathartic as he feels he needs to compensate for his kills when he was a Black Ops sniper. The fact that these two people are busting their guts to help others is pretty admirable even though they see themselves as flawed individuals.

The novel plays out as a blend of police procedural, urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The romance aspect is definitely there but it doesn’t overwhelm the novel and we rarely forget just what is at stake. I wish that the hint of a love triangle had been left out of this debut as there were enough complications – there is time for that later if Harper wants to go that route. I loved that although Zack and Emma were attracted to each other, they were able to still work effectively together on what was a fairly absorbing mystery. Both their paranormal skills came into play but Emma’s was exploited far more. Even though there are two authors that make up S.J. Harper, the transitions were seamless.

There was some interesting world-building when it came to the Greek gods side of things but I wanted more background on the vampires and werewolves. I also wanted to know more about Zack’s background and the pack issues simply because we were given far more of an insight into Emma’s world.

I really enjoyed Cursed and can’t wait to see what case Emma and Zack get saddled with next.

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