Hello, my darling readers!
It took me a hot minute to finally get started with Cursed after it was the talk of the town last year. Well, after I read The Guinenevere Deception I had an Arthurian myth shaped hole in my heart. Cursed seemed like the perfect choice to fill it. But was it, though?
The Plot (as found on Goodreads):
Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.
But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?
Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…
That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.
Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.
But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.
Book vs. Movie:
Normally, I try to sit down and write my posts in a timely manner after watching the movie/TV show and/or reading the book. However, I just really didn’t know what to do with Cursed. It took me forever and 15 days to finally sit down to write this, but here we are!
Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with either the book or the Netflix adaptation. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The novel first. This was a weird read and I think I know why. Tom Wheeler, the author, usually writes for TV and film. That shows! Several times throughout the book and especially during the final chapters this felt like a weird in-between of a novel and a script. Neither here nor there. Oftentimes, descriptions or scenes in the chapters were not fleshed out enough and seemed shallow and pale. Something was missing.
On top of that, most of the characters were downright annoying and I just kept rolling my eyes. I wouldn’t want to be lead by any of them, especially not Nimue who at times seemed as dense as a brick. Merlin is always drunk and disgusting, and somewhat of a deadbeat. Then we have Uther who is a petulant stupid child. I just wanted to smack him straight across his face. You can see, none of this bodes well for the novel.
I was really looking forward to Frank Miller’s art. He provided illustrations for the book but even those were mostly irritating. All in all, things were hard to decipher in his drawings, and every single time I was confused about who he’s actually depicting. I could swear the same character looked rather different in each picture.
Long story short, I was very annoyed with the book. I could see a lot of potential but the execution was flawed. However, since the author is a TV writer and many of the chapters felt script-adjacent, I hoped that the adaptation would be better.
Alas, I was wrong. I mean, the show wasn’t awful but I certainly wouldn’t watch it a second time. The weird thing is, all the moments from the novel that I expected to work well on-screen were altered in some way shape, or form – and not for the better. The way the show depicts some stuff (eg. Arthur and Gawain interacting, or Nimue and Arthur *ahem* flirting) felt extremely cringy. If they had to change things, why not make it better???
As much as I love seeing Gustaf Skarsgard again after Vikings, I was irritated that he got cast as Merlin. The wizard is supposed to be old. And the way I understood it in the novel, he also looks old (and somewhat disgusting). So, Skarsgard strayed really far from how I had imagined Merlin and from how he was described in the novel. Furthermore, we get many fay-folk characters. While the make-up department tried really hard to make those look dope, it just didn’t work for me. I can’t put my finger on what exactly it was that seemed off, but what we got just wasn’t it.
I did enjoy the change of plot when it comes to Pym. No spoilers, but at least there was an attempt to provide more depth. That being said, it wasn’t fully successful and I was kind of mad at the end of that particular storyline. The same goes for Iris and Morgana!
Finally, I was almost ready to throw a fit after the first episode when I saw the CGI. There is a scene where Nimue fights off some wolves and boy, this is bad. This is among the top 5 of the worst CGI effects I have ever seen. Thankfully, things look a bit better during the rest of the season, but still, that almost was enough to make me want to quit.
As you can see, there are many things I have to complain about both for the novel and the adaptation. There are so many other shows and books out there inspired by Arthurian mythology, so let’s just focus on those and forget about Cursed. So much potential but all of it squandered.
Did you prefer the book or the show? Let me know in the comments!