Book Review: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon - Book Review from Novels and Nebulas

Genre: Contemporary (with hints of Fantasy)

Age Range: Young adult

Series: 1st in a series of companion novels

Publication Date: 18th February, 2020

Publisher: Simon Pulse (US)

Format I Read: PDF

Content Warning: Parental neglect, emotional abuse, blackmail

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon - Book Review from Novels and Nebulas

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending… right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

Characters and Representation in Of Curses and Kisses

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Jaya and Grey’s narratives alternate throughout the book but Jaya was the clear winner for me. Of course, there are some similarities between us like the fact that we’re both brown and are from Karnataka, but my connection to her character felt deeper than that. The representation in this book of an Indian princess gets an A+ from me!

Sandhya has always been good at crafting side characters and this book is no different. My favourite was Rahul, a shy, soft and nerdy Indian boy who was friends with Jaya and Grey. I also really liked Isha for her bravery and spunk.

The romance plot was every bit as swoon-worthy and delightful as I’d hoped. There was a healthy amount of angst and was more of a slow-burn as a result of the characters’ natures. I really liked how the main characters challenged each other to overcome their weaknesses to become better individuals too.

Plot and World-Building in Of Curses and Kisses

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I wouldn’t call myself an expert when it comes to judging a contemporary story’s plot and world-building but this one hooked me from a few chapters in. It was the kind of story that you can comfortably ease into and difficult to put down once it gets going. The tension between the main couple mostly carried the story forward, which I enjoyed as a fan of character-driven stories.

Having read the author’s previous works, I felt that Sandhya outdid herself with the world-building in this book. Since many of the world-building elements were familiar to me, it was clear that she had put in a lot of work to base the story around facts and get the representation right. St. Rosetta’s was a magical place that quietly reflected the Beast’s castle from the fairytale Of Curses and Kisses was based on.

Beauty and the Beast is one of the most popular stories that is being retold in myriad ways these days. However, the author has managed to put her own unique spin on it and add a desi flavour to it. I really liked the bits that were taken from the fairytale and the way they were repurposed to fit this narrative.

Writing Style and Themes in Of Curses and Kisses

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sandhya Menon’s writing style is best described as ‘breezy’. It is very accessible to young readers, reluctant readers and readers whose first language may not be English as her prose is delightfully simple. That’s not to say that there aren’t some great lines in the book that I think are highly quotable.

The theme that broke my heart and stitched it back up was the responsibility on Jaya to manage her family’s expectations. As an Indian myself, this is a struggle I strongly identify with and the author managed to talk about it without being preachy or taking sides. It resonated with the core of my being and I cried a few times while reading certain scenes in this book.

There are also themes of feminism, coming of age and identity issues, healing from trauma and emotional abuse that are explored in a thoughtful way, in my opinion. I wish the author had gone into a bit more detail with some of them but I do understand that there’s only so much you can do in a text of a certain length. That said, I think Sandhya managed to strike the perfect balance between heavy and light moments in Of Curses and Kisses.

Verdict

If you are looking for a young adult romance that will sweep you off your feet to a Beauty and the Beast-inspired boarding school setting, this is the book for you. It has amazing South Indian rep and the characters make the story shine. If you have previously not enjoyed Sandhya’s works then maybe this one isn’t for you either.

Links

Book: Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon (US) | B&N | Indies

Author: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Related Post: Top 10 Exciting YA SFF Releases of February 2020

Of Curses and Kisses Blog Tour Information

Of Curses and Kisses Blog Tour Banner

About the Author

Sandhya Menon is the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met RishiOf Curses and Kisses, and many other novels that also feature lots of kissing, girl power, and swoony boys. Her books have been included in several cool places, including the Today show, Teen VogueNPRBuzzFeed, and Seventeen. A full-time dog servant and part-time writer, she makes her home in the foggy mountains of Colorado.

Sandhya Menon, author of Of Curses and Kisses

Tour Schedule

Blog/BookTube ChannelDate
Rube @ BookishOwl Reviews4-Feb-20
Trisha @ trishajennreads4-Feb-20
Jordan @ The Heart of a Book Blogger5-Feb-20
Maggie @ The Book Nerd6-Feb-20
Star @ Star is All Booked Up6-Feb-20
Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages7-Feb-20
Emma @ Emma’s Book Nook8-Feb-20
Rohina @ New Chicks on the Blog8-Feb-20
Brooke @ Brooke’s Reviews and Sweeps10-Feb-20
Charvi @ Not Just Fiction11-Feb-20
Marloes @ Subtle Bookish12-Feb-20
Kirsty @ Kirsty’s Book Reviews12-Feb-20
Ari @ Books. Libraries. Also, cats.13-Feb-20
Amairo @ A Court of Books and Magic13-Feb-20
Michelle @ Magical Reads14-Feb-20
Karis @ Living Life the Write Way14-Feb-20
Lara @ Naija Book Bae15-Feb-20
Aradhna @ Open Pages16-Feb-20
Azrah @ Quintessentially Bookish17-Feb-20
Sahitya @ My World of Books17-Feb-20
Ashleigh @ Ashleigh’s Bookshelf17-Feb-20
Rachael @ Scorpio Book Dreams18-Feb-20
Nandini @ Novels and Nebulas18-Feb-20
Megan @ Megabunny Reads18-Feb-20
Ritu @ Bohemian Bibliophile19-Feb-20
Olivia @ Stagey Bookish19-Feb-20
Shreya @ The Baroness of Books20-Feb-20
Aradhna @ Open Pages20-Feb-20
Christy @ BookCrushin20-Feb-20
Amna @ YA Book Corner21-Feb-20
Heather @ Velaris Reads23-Feb-20
Emma Must Read24-Feb-20
Latesha @ Bookish Girl Magic25-Feb-20
Saniya @ Deckled Edges25-Feb-20
Book Lover’s Book Reviews25-Feb-20
Chloe @ Brunette Bibliophile26-Feb-20

Is this book on your TBR? What are your thoughts on it? Have you read any good young adult books with a romantic main plot recently? Let me know in the comments section down below. Hope you are having a magical week, readers from Earth!

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Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon - Book Review from Novels and Nebulas

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon”

  1. Nandini, I love how detailed your review is and the fact that it is basically a Sandhya Menon shrine <3
    Oof, I can't believe we'll have too wait so long for the sequel!

    1. Thank you so much! 💖 The whole point of the new review style is to provide more balanced info for the reader as much as it is sharing my opinion. I’m so glad people visiting the blog are picking up on that! 😊 Since I already know so much about the sequel, it’s making the wait even harder. 🙈

  2. Pingback: Reacting to People's Assumptions About Me!!! // my love for food, revealing my Hogwarts House & more – Caitlin Althea

    1. Thanks a lot, Aradhna! 💖 I took a quick look at the review on your blog too and loved it. You speak about this book with such passion – it puts a big smile on my face. 😊 Also, the songs you chose for the playlist are awesome!

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