Second Hand Curses
by Drew Hayes
narrated by Scott Aiello, Marc Vietor, and Tavia Gilbert
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This book is amazing! Its DnD meets fractured Fairy Tales and I love it. Second Hand Curses follows the Bastard Champions as they take jobs that no honest adventurer or Knight would take. (as long as it pays well enough) The Bastard Champions are a group of scoundrels with morals. They may be willing to take dirty jobs like breaking fairy curses, (even when the fairy made a fair deal) but they will never turn down a job to help rescue innocent children. And, above all else, they are loyal to each other.
I love all the fairy tale references strewn throughout the book. I caught a lot of them, but I am sure there are just as many that I missed. At the beginning of the book, each chapter is a different job the Bastard Champions take. The first job is saving Cinderella. Cinderella made a deal with a fairy – she trades her freedom in exchange for the Prince’s heart. But, when the prince really does fall in love with her, Cinderella panics and wants out of the deal. She hires the Bastard Champions to help her. Throughout the book there were many other fairy tales brought into play; The Princess and the Frog, Pinocchio, The Cobbler and the Tinker Elves, The Pied Piper – just to name a few. As the book progresses the jobs start to run together as the Bastard Champions start on their own larger quest instead of just taking paid jobs.
As the main quest continues you learn more about each individual member of the group. Frank is Frankenstein’s monster who has been given a second chance at life. Jack is from pretty much every fairly tale where the main boy is named “Jack.” Including Jack and the Beanstalk, and Jack be Nimble, and something about a cricket, tho I didn’t understand that reference? I’m also not sure what Marie is based on? She might be a creation of the author or she might come from a different story, I don’t know. Whatever she was, the trio was amazing together and they had such great dynamic that it was fun to read!
Since the book is set in a world of fairy tales there is an omnipotent force called “The Narrative” This is where the DnD aspect comes into play. The Narrative actively helps or hurts plans as it sees fit to do what is right. Frank, who comes from our world, often compares God to The Narrative and it interests him that The Narrative plays an active roll, where as God rarely ever interfered with anything. I am not doing a great job of explaining it but I loved the idea of The Narrative and it was a fun addition to the book.
The audiobook itself was super easy to follow along with. Its possible that this book was written to be listened to? Its one of the best audiobooks I have heard! I liked all three narrators but I liked the male narrators a lot more than the female. Her voice was fine, I just felt her accent was a bit preppy sounding, which didn’t fit the female character.
Overall I loved this book. It was funny and quick and adventurous and I really wish it was part of a series and not just a stand alone! I want more!!! (Tho I have great respect for stand-alones because I hate cliffhangers haha)
In a way, the Bastard Champions are the A-Team of the fairy tale world:
If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the Bastard Champions.
If you have read the book you might find this wiki by TVTropes super interesting. Its got a ton of reference and cool information. (But beware it is chock full of spoilers, so don’t visit it unless you have read the book!)
Have you read Second Hand Curses? Did you love it too?!?!