This book has such a unique premise! It's kind of like if the Devil went down to Georgia looking for a soul to steal, and he found one and stole it. And then he doomed that person to go out finding other souls to steal until they paid him back the debt they owed, and their children and children's children and so on would have to keep doing that too. Until the debt is paid in full. Except, he went up to Washington instead of down to Georgia.
Kind of. This is a tricky book to explain. Let me try again.
Alexander Pike VI is a nice young man, except for one thing: he works for the Devil. The Devil sends him to find specific people and bring them back to the Devil, who then either just takes them to Hell or dooms them to something bad happening here on earth before they die. Depending on what flavor of evil he's feeling.
The thing is, Pike still has a conscience. He's not a demon, he's just a cursed human. And he hates what he has to do, but he's stuck doing it because, if he doesn't, someone he loves will be chained to the Devil's will instead. He chooses to serve out the sentence of his forebears so no one else has to.
And then, Pike meets Miss Cassidy Jackson, a sweet and lively young lady, the daughter of a respected doctor. When Pike realizes he's falling in love with her, he tries to hide his affection from the Devil, knowing his master will turn this against him.
Which, of course, the Devil does. He dangles the promise of an end to Pike's sentence in front of him all while toying with Pike like a vicious cat with its prey. In the end, Pike must accept that he has always had choices, and even though he told himself he was only doing the Devil's bidding to protect someone else, he's been lying to himself all along. There are a lot of powerful metaphors going on in this book about temptation, sin, and how we justify our behavior to ourselves. And about how enticing and attractive the Devil can be.
Yes, this is a new adult fantasy book, but it has some nice weight to it, and I like that it doesn't shy away from difficult moral questions. At the same time, it never descends into the kind of tawdry material that so many new-adult fantasy books do, and I very much appreciated and applaud that.
This book is expected to be released in March of 2023. I received a free ARC of This Cursed Line from the publisher. I was not asked or instructed to leave a review, positive or otherwise. All opinions are my own, and honest.
Particularly Good Bits:
"It's rude to be a monster unnecessarily."
"I don't believe in love at first sight, but I do believe in friendship at first introduction."
Pike clenched his jaw shut, willing memories not to overflow like tears.
In the mountains, leaves were starting to fade from their blazing oranges and yellows to deep reds and browns, on their path of death for winter like Pike's own soul, rotting from within.
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-16 for some violence, some pretty scary and sometimes gross stuff involving the Devil, plus a situation where a man tries to force himself on a teen girl, but is stopped. No actual smut, but some mild language.