“Can you resist temptation?”
Thank you very much to Regine Abel for providing a copy of her novella in exchange for an honest review.
Regine Abel’s Bluebeard’s Curse is a romantic and charming novella that captures the reader’s heart in the first few pages.
The novel is loosely based on the tale of Bluebeard and follows King Eric Thorsen who finds himself widowed again after his latest wife perished to the alluring curse that has threatened the kingdom for decades. His queen has exactly one year and one day to break the mysterious curse but so far, none have prevailed; that is, until Astrid. Astrid is different from Eric’s other brides and he can’t help but fall for her, even though he knows he should not get attached. The longer Astrid stays alive, the more Eric falls for her, but the terrible curse is not far behind and the monster behind it has its sights set on destroying Astrid and the kingdom itself.
I haven’t read a proper romance novel in over a year and I’m so thankful that I was reintroduced to this genre through Bluebeard’s Curse. The novella is an imaginative and compelling retelling of the French folktale. In the original story, Bluebeard, an ugly and cruel nobleman, has been married many times to beautiful women, all of who had disappeared. He leaves his new wife in command of the palace and informs her she can go into any room except for the dungeon downstairs. She is eventually overcome with desire and opens the room to find the dead bodies of Bluebeard’s other wives, hanging on the walls.
Abel has taken the classic and frightening elements of the folktale and transformed them into a beautiful and captivating love story – I don’t know how she did it because, in reality, the aspects of the original tale could not possibly make for a touching romance, and yet it has. That can certainly be attributed to Abel’s outstanding writing, which flows naturally and allows for the scenes to progress gracefully.
I found myself connecting deeply with Astrid, when I didn’t think I would have. At the beginning of the novel, I thought she would be another take on that stereotypical female romance character: the distressed virgin who can’t seem to do anything without her male lover. I was elated when that wasn’t the case – Astrid’s character develops from a quiet, restrained and unassuming young woman into the heroine of the novella, which is another superb modification from the original folktale.
I knew I would love Eric, as I adore all misunderstood and tragic love interests, so no surprises when I fell for him from from the beginning of the novella. He is everything a brooding, handsome and powerful male character with a secret history needs to be. I enjoyed his relationship with Astrid and how it evolved. Despite the short length of the novel, you can’t help but genuinely come to care about Eric and Astrid, and eventually root for them to overcome the curse and have a deserved happy ending.
As this is the first (hetero) romance I have read in a while, I didn’t know what to expect from the sex scenes – whether they would be too in your face or unnecessarily verbose and adding nothing to the story. Abel’s flowing language adds a sense of eloquence to the sex scenes. As a result, the scenes were both stirring and tender; romantic and sentimental.
The plot progresses quickly due to the narrative length, but that does not hinder the story in any way. The novella covers one year and one day swiftly but also allows for the climax to develop naturally. There were several plot twists I did not foresee, and I sincerely adored the conclusion.
Bluebeard’s Curse is an alluring and touching novella that reshaped a terrifying folktale into an enchanting romance. I look forward to seeing what else Abel has in store for us.