Narrated by Khristine Hvam
If you’re looking for a highly original urban fantasy series, then search no further. Both the Soulwood Series and the series from which this series was spun-off from (the Jane Yellowrock Series) are must listens for lovers of this genre. I will say that this book had a slightly different feel than the first in the series (Blood of the Earth) which made my top-favorites list earlier this year. This book felt to me much busier, with the immediate suspense plot that is resolved in this book being very detailed and intense and requiring careful focus to details. It’s loaded with symbolism and keeps the listener guessing with lots of potential explanations for the unexplained supernatural phenomenon that is occurring and that Nell, as part of the PsyLED team, is tasked with solving. Therefore, this is not a book you’re going to want to listen to while doing other things (for example, I frequently listen to audiobooks while cooking or doing household chores). This is a book that requires dedicated focus, but if you dedicate the time, this book will reward you with a highly creative and suspense-filled supernatural journey.
The one area where I was not quite as fulfilled as I hoped to be, now that we are moving on to Book 2 in this series, was the romance. Whereas we get a strong feeling who Nell’s (the heroine’s) romantic love interest may be in this series, we don’t get much movement in starting a relationship. This is not completely atypical in an UF series, but as our focus is typically romance, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. My guess is that Faith Hunter is saving the romance elements so that it can build over the series. I just hope the next book has more development in this area.
Curse on the Land basically picks up where book 1 leaves off. Nell Ingram has completed her training at “spook” school and is now a full-fledged member of the PsyLED Unit 18 which is led by Rick LaFleur (who also is a character in the Jane Yellowrock Series). However, Nell doesn’t get a chance to celebrate her accomplishment and rest and relax when she returns home because Rick is ready to staff her on a new mission that could benefit from her “special abilities” (this new case involves an apparent evil source that is contaminating the land near where she lives, causing animals to act strangely and die).
We still don’t completely know what Nell is (from a supernatural perspective) but it’s clear that she has magical abilities tied to the land and is able to both read and influence and be influenced by it. Roots of trees literally grow around her when she communes with the land and it can actually be dangerous for her, so the whole team gets involved in watching and protecting her when she is using her own special abilities to assess the magic sources that are influencing the land. That said, her detecting abilities using these “special abilities” are far superior to any electronic gadgets that PsyLED has developed over the years which means that Rick needs her to continue communing with the land even if it’s dangerous.
One of the team members, Okum, seems extra concerned about her safety and begins to show signs that his feelings for her may transcend purely a working relationship. However, Nell being a widow and having previously only experienced relationships through the lens of the polygamist cult she grew up in makes her somewhat naïve in this area at detecting the interest of a man. Moreover, she still seems skittish at the thought of letting anyone into her life in that way.
Will Nell be able to find the evil magic source? Can her team keep her safe as the power gets stronger and stronger?
Khristine Hvam does an amazing job narrating this series. Ms. Hvam’s large range of voices, including small, rural town appropriate voices, make her natural for this role. Her voice for Nell is perfect and remarkably consistent with the voice she used in the first book. In my head when I think of Nell now, I hear Ms. Hvam’s voice for her. Moreover, Ms. Hvam is able to create equally appropriate voices for the other big city dwellers, both male and female; and I love how you can tell who the more dominant personalities are from her portrayal.
I also love the emotion that Ms. Hvam imparts. The sound of her voice alone can key in the listener to when an action suspense scene is coming. You can also hear the concern and moreover budding feelings that Okum is starting to develop for Nell just in the way he speaks to her.
All in all, I highly recommend this series, including Curse on the Land. I will say that while I enjoyed the first book more, I’m very intrigued by all the possibilities that Ms. Hunter has woven into the ever growing and more complex suspense plot that arcs the entire series. I’m also looking forward to see if Nell begins to pursue a HEA and what shape any such relationship will take.
Book Content: B+
Steam Factor: You can play it out loud
Violence Rating: Fighting
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Audible Studios
Curse on the Land was provided to AudioGals by Audible Studios for a review.