Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Banshee's Curse #1

Lady Vago's Malediction

Rate this book
In the blackened heart of a cursed forest, a banshee haunts her crumbling castle with lethal screams.

Lady Vago is trapped in this place. She cannot fulfill her purpose as a banshee: to warn her loved ones of their deaths and watch over them while they pass. To solve the mystery of her imprisonment, she must sift through the rubble and ruin that surrounds her. By communing with old paintings, broken furniture, and even the stones themselves, she rediscovers who she was in life.

Before she was Lady Vago, she was Rovena Stoddard, a sharp-witted horse merchant's daughter that caught the eye of a charming baron. Lord Kalsten Vago's life as a wandering knight was over, but it inspired visions of a better life for his most vulnerable subjects. Rovena was far less afraid of bold change than his staunch and loyal steward, who saw her presence as a threat to Lord Kalsten's success. Love and shared dreams alone wouldn't overcome the controversy of the couple's hasty and unequal union, as well as the trials of governing a fledgling barony—Rovena knew that. What she failed to recognize was the deeper darkness taking root in Vago lands and hearts...

Every memory of what Rovena loved is a reminder of what she lost, but she cannot let grief halt her search. Devoted spectres of ash are begging their lady for an end to their torment, and she will not let their agony–or her own–go unanswered anymore.

253 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 27, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

A.K.M. Beach

4 books5 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
11 (25%)
4 stars
23 (52%)
3 stars
8 (18%)
2 stars
1 (2%)
1 star
1 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,384 reviews222 followers
June 23, 2021
I'm shallow. I judge books by their covers. I didn't expect to enjoy Lady Vago's Malediction, but I was wrong.

The titular Lady Vago is a banshee. Before turning into one, she had a good life - she caught the eye of a charming baron who married her despite their class differences. Her husband was not only handsome but also wise and good to everyone; he wanted nothing more than to improve the lives of his subjects. Rovena's keen mind and insights helped him make bold decisions that brought satisfying results that did not please everyone at court.

The first few pages of the book leave the reader with no illusions - everyone dies, and everything ends badly. The question the book tries to answer is how and why they all got there.

The story alternates between Rovena's tragic now, her fulfilling past, and the events that ruined her life. Although the plot is relatively predictable, the authors seed it with intriguing revelations that would be spoilers to list. Good pacing and Rovena's character depth are strengths; she's relatable and likable. I also enjoyed secondary characters and found them well-rounded and believable. Sure, Rovena's late husband was a tad too perfect, but maybe she just idolized him in her memories?

As you probably guessed, I liked this one. It's well-written, atmospheric, and engaging. I'm looking forward to seeing where the series goes from here.
Profile Image for Mike.
405 reviews102 followers
March 22, 2022
This was a good-yet-imperfect book. I enjoyed it a great deal, despite the flaws.

The main part of the story follows along with a woman, Rovena, the daughter of a merchant commoner, who catches the eye of and marries a local noble (it’s a love match). Things proceed along a somewhat predictable path. She’s not a refined noblewoman, and looked down upon by the nobles of the baron’s court. His steward is jealous of how much his lord comes to rely upon his bride’s counsel and hopes he will set her aside before she conceives. Rovena is intelligent and capable, and moves the barony in directions that increase general prosperity but at the cost of reducing the wealth and privileges of the nobles. Intrigues happen, et cetera, et cetera. It’s familiar, but it’s well done.

The frame story is much more interesting: the main story is told from the perspective of Rovena, a banshee trapped in the ruins of the castle. She doesn’t remember her life before becoming a banshee except in the vaguest of feelings and flashes, but she knows there was a lot of grief involved. The frame is banshee-Rovena searching the ruins of the castle, finding things that spark memories, piecing together her past. She wants to know what happened and why she is trapped in the ruins.

Obviously this is not a cheerful story. Even knowing that everyone dies, the castle and town burn down, and Rovena ends up as a banshee, I wasn’t prepared for how much of an emotional gut punch the climax was.

There are two areas of weakness here. The first is that the central plot did, as I said earlier, feel familiar and somewhat predictable. On the other hand, it is well done, and there was a twist at the end I didn’t see coming (though I feel like, in retrospect, I should have). I also spent much of the book wondering where on earth the sequel was going to go, since this is a duology. I’m pretty certain I can answer that question now, and I’m thoroughly intrigued.

The other critique is about the writing. At the beginning, the book is very hard to take seriously. For example:

But if her unusual attire was what caught his eye, it was her face that kept him from looking away. What little of it that showed was remarkably pale, if flushed, and yet she did not appear sickly. Her eyes were dark as flint and sparked as if struck against steel. Paired with lips that curved like a composite bow, the effect was entrancing. Whatever her machinations happened to be, Kalsten very much wanted to be invited along, and woe betide anyone who dared to impede her.

Fortunately, as the book goes on, the language gets … toned down, I’ll say. That is to say, I stopped feeling the urge to melodramatically read it out loud to Mrs. OfThePalace. The beginning section is very purple in its prose, but that doesn’t last long before it becomes much more (in my opinion) reasonable.

Overall, I feel like this isn’t a 4 star book so much as a 4-and-a-half rounded down. Strongly recommended.
Profile Image for Angela Cuéllar.
946 reviews96 followers
November 13, 2020
Thank you to the authors for submitting this book for review!

So this book was a gamble for me. I was intrigued by it but not wholly convinced it was really something I'd enjoy, even so I agreed to read it and now here I am writing a lil review glad I took the chance. Lady Vago's Malediction was somehow both what I expected from the blurb and something else entirely, something more. It was certainly a hauntingly intriguing historical fiction mystery full of energy and emotion. Adrenaline, sorrow, curiosity, secrets, and that extra something that keeps you reading even when a part of you is unsure all lifted from the pages with each turn of the story. This wasn't an overly long read and I fell into the lovely flow of the writing quite easily. I'd certainly recommend it to readers interested in the genre or perhaps even looking for something to try the genre out.
Profile Image for L (Nineteen Adze).
243 reviews33 followers
December 28, 2021
This was a dead-on 3 stars for me. I learned from other reviews here that this is the first in a planned duology, and I think that would have been useful to know going in.

Content warnings: moderate to severe;

The concept is wonderful, and set up with such eeriness: a banshee drifts through an abandoned castle, surrounded by corpses and people of ash who seem to want something from her. As she touches objects in the castle, she slowly begins to regain her memories of how the land was destroyed and who she used to be. If the book had had more of this voice, I suspect I would have loved it; the way the backstory builds to the present tragedy could have been so compelling.

Unfortunately, the backstory segments take over the book almost immediately. First the backstory: we learn that the banshee used to be Rovena, a horse merchant's daughter who fell deeply in love with Baron Kalsten Vago. For me, their love story is emphatically Just Okay, playing heavily on rapid lust and love at first sight that's supposed to land as this great romance for the ages. It's a big deal that Kalsten marries a peasant, with some interesting side details about how she's been consecrated into the nobility by proxy, but that style of state religion feels a little too neat, with everyone seeming to believe it intensely and Rovena both noticing that these consecrated nobles seem petty and fragile up close and sincerely believing that this class system is divinely mandated. It's hard to pin down, but I found myself torn between great details about things like the near-immortal emperor and being impatient with the characterization.

The structure also seems messy. After we learn the full scope of Rovena's story, the last chapter sprints through a quick "and then present-day Rovena did this over the course of ambiguously decades or centuries, here's the hook for the next book!". If the chapters had spaced it out for an alternating structure of Rovena getting pieces of history and then using her powers to influence her environment, I think that would have felt much smoother and I'd be more interested in seeing where the story ends up.

I also couldn't get past a basic question that involves some heavy spoilers.

I don't think I'm going to read the next book: there are some great ideas here in the worldbuilding and background, but I spent too much time being vaguely irritated at most of the characters to want to go back to that world. Tempting though it is to follow another character out of the Vago barony and see how the world has changed, this just didn't work for me.
Profile Image for Kat.
121 reviews3 followers
August 2, 2021
Katie's Book Report - Contains Spoilers - For my own failing memory...

What a compelling and well-written book. Truly. Bravo! I haven't read a tragic, Gothic novel in quite some time, and I must say that this was quite the satisfying read, scratching an itch I didn't realize I had.

The novel starts out with a frame narrative; the reader is introduced to a banshee, haunting the insides of a castle's ruins, burned and destroyed centuries ago. The banshee searches the rooms, halls, and revenants for clues to her past, trying to understand her pain and why she is tied to the castle. Through her explorations, the reader is transported back in time to the events that lead to the banshee's existence. She is Rovena, the Lady Vago, and the book tells the love story between her and Lord Kalsten and the eventual downfall of their lives and their barony at the hands of jealous and prejudiced attendants and a wicked villain. The use of the frame narrative here is quite clever, because the overall tone for the book is set from the beginning; there is a frame of tragic sadness if you will, such that when we learn the details of our heroes' demise, the sadness is that much more profound.

There were so many things I thoroughly enjoyed about this book; a few of the highlights include subtle aspects of the world-building that made for a less traditional setting (e.g. a complete lack of gender norms, prejudices focused on class as opposed to gender or race, etc.), character building (especially Rovena), and the frame narrative. I was also struck by the prose. To me, the prose in this book is beautiful. It hits the sweet spot for me (a reader that prefers literary prose) of being "elevated" without coming off as pretentious. I truly enjoyed this writing.

Tragic character archetypes are superbly developed and employed. Kalsten is set up as the archetypical tragic victim; he is honest, open, fair, and madly and unconditionally in love with Rovena for who she was as a person and not simply her beauty, his only character flaw a complete (albeit naïve) trust in everyone around him. The construction of his character was so adeptly done to serve the story and tragedy as the true, undeserving victim of the entire affair.

Rovena is presented as the archetypical tragic hero whose fatal flaw contributes to the traditional (Shakespearean) piling of bodies on the stage at the end of the final act. She reacts too quickly. She is rash. She has a bit of a chip on her shoulder that amplifies her belief that she knows better than others and that she sees the entire picture, even when she doesn't. That little bit of hubris combined with her rush to judgement and action, drove her to making these two decisions, which ultimately contributed to her demise. But that's what's so great about a tragedy, right? You love the hero, and the hero is most definitely wronged. But the hero is also fundamentally flawed, a contributor to their own downfall, and that factor makes that downfall all the more tragic. Chef's Kiss

Finally, there is Dugan, Lord Vago's steward. His jealously and prejudice were significant contributors to not only the deaths of Lord and Lady Vago, but also the fall of the barony. Although he was not the ultimate villain, he was the hapless antihero that paved the way for the true villain to seize his power through wretched means. For whatever reason, these characters always trigger my disdain more than the villains themselves!

It should be noted that the tone and foreshadowing of the frame narrative still do not prepare you for just how jarring the tragic events actually are. This book definitely needs content warnings (especially with respect to infant mortality), because of the graphic nature of some of the final scenes. There were a couple of times I thought - how could this get any worse for Rovena? And then it does. But, the scenes were purposeful and effective; I did not find them gratuitous.

I will read on in this series. In fact, I am champing at the bit for book two! I absolutely have to know what happens next and whether the noble, female knight will be able to wrest justice from the architects of Lord and Lady Vago's demise. Well done! Looking forward to more!
Profile Image for Tabitha  Tomala.
692 reviews79 followers
May 15, 2021
This review is also featured on Behind the Pages: Lady Vago's Malediction

Thank you to A.K.M. Beach for providing me with a copy for an honest review!

As a banshee, it is Lady Vago’s duty to be at her loved ones' sides when they pass over. But she is unable to leave the burned out remains of her castle. Each death she feels brings ever increasing torment as she is denied her right to be at their sides. Determined to find out why she is cursed, Lady Vago searches for the answers buried within her past life. The remaining souls trapped with her bring forth objects that may hold her memories. With each new memory that surfaces, Lady Vago travels farther down the path to her downfall.

Lady Vago’s Malediction is a gothic fantasy with a bewitching mystery. Readers will be swept up in Lady Vago’s desperate search for memories. Each new piece of the past pulls readers further into the story. But they will not see the full picture until the end. The memories are torn into fragments and allow you to see from multiple character POVs. And as each memory built upon one another, the story grew in intensity

Being able to see how various characters viewed Lady Vago brought a new level of awareness to the nobility's ignorance. Lady Vago had a brilliant mind, but it didn’t matter because she was only noble by marriage. While her husband treasured her and often sought her advice, she was seen as a threat. But Lady Vago refused to back down and forged ahead with what she believed in. I loved how A.K.M. Beach portrayed the relationship between Lady and Lord Vago, and the support they gave to one another despite the whispers and gossip from their court.

And it was refreshing to have the Irish banshee lore incorporated into the story instead of making Lady Vago another villain. Before reading this book, I had no knowledge of the lore and was pleasantly surprised to learn about it. Lady Vago is a tormented character readers can’t help but connect with. In life, she was a peasant who rose into the ranks of nobility with marriage and proved that peasants deserved a voice.

Given how this book ended, I am left craving to know more. I highly recommend this to fans of gothic fantasy.
1,002 reviews20 followers
December 19, 2020
I received a copy from Voracious Readers Only in exchange for an honest review. I picked this one on a whim, because, hey, banshees are cool. I was a dunce for not realizing the obvious, that this is a historical fantasy/political intrigue story. It is so, so outside my wheelhouse. Like, you can't get much further. It is not a genre that I read, so I am 100% not qualified to give any kind of educated opinion. But, here are my thoughts as a genre ignorant:
It must have been pretty good, because I actually became emotionally invested! Oh, man, it got really intense and sad and even though I knew how it's going to end (as the story starts at the end and then goes over everything that came before) I had this irrational hope that it wouldn't.
The characters, especially the protagonist, were well written. The writing style took me a while to get used to, but it was consistent and genre appropriate. The plot managed to hold my attention even though I'm far from the target audience. And the ending made me want a sequel!
So, yeah, overall, I'm glad I gave it a shot.
Profile Image for Tom.
88 reviews10 followers
November 21, 2021
This is a very interesting read. It’s not long but packs in a lot of story and ideas. Told out of time, flitting between coherent flashbacks and the present revelations that reveal them, we learn the history of Lady Vago. It’s something quite different, and I felt a little lost at the start, but it’s well worth a read. I am very excited that it is now listed as part one of a duology.
Profile Image for Kel.
128 reviews3 followers
July 23, 2021
[ Overall Thoughts ]
Lady Vago's Malediction is the tale of, as the title would suggest, Lady Rovena Vago and the no-good, very-bad events that led to her becoming a banshee. We are first introduced to Rovena as a banshee, having forgotten herself and her past entirely for some unknown duration of time. As she wanders through her manor, she finds scraps of herself and her life from the bits of rubble. Chapters following the banshee are interspersed with chapters of her memories: the Lady Vago of the past who lived an apparently happy life and the occasional POV from the people around her. As the banshee-Rovena uncovers more of her life and the events that led to her current circumstances, the tone of the novel shifts to further favor the gothic. I found the story interesting, the prose somewhat flowery, engaging, and easy to read, and the framing of the story unique. While I didn't feel strongly for the characters, I enjoyed learning more about them and the way their stories were told.

[ The World ]
The story takes place in a pseudo-European setting with knights and a holy emperor. While there is some "real" magic in this world, and there is the idea of a divine or magical quality to noble blood, for most of the story it only plays the role of a religion and works to reinforce the class system that is in place under the emperor and his noble knights.

[ The Characters ]
Our story revolves primarily around Lord and Lady Vago. Rovena Stoddard is the daughter of an up-and-coming successful merchant who has made his success from selling horses. When Lord Vago comes to her father's stables to purchase a new horse, he is presented with the offer of Rovena as a wife as well. As problematic as this setup sounds, Lord Vago approaches the situation with surprisingly modern thinking, respecting Rovena's wishes and interest in the matter. Both are fairly likable but I didn't find myself terribly attached to either.

[ Suggested Audience ]
Readers looking for a novel that leans into the gothic style.
Readers who enjoy romantic elements with non-HEA endings (This is not a spoiler. She's a banshee, okay, something not-great obviously happens.)
Readers who like slightly florid prose and a measured unfolding of a mystery plot.

[ TL;DR ]
Lady Vago's Malediction is an engaging and quick read that leans into gothic traditions to tell a unique story.
Content Warning for , specifically .
Profile Image for Sarah.
348 reviews56 followers
October 8, 2021
I received a paperback copy of Lady Vago’s Malediction: The Banshee's Curse Duology Book
One, authored and published by A. K. M. Beach (co-authors, married duo: Matt and Ash), artwork by @SketchedUp84, for review consideration. What follows below is my honest review, freely given.

I rated this novel 5 stars. I had initially given it 4 stars, but in going through the book again for writing my review just had to go up to 5, this book is too good. Not sure why I only went with 4 in the first place. I am tragically behind on some reviews, this was one of them. Never ruin your review rhythm if you can help it, months later I’m still trying to get back on track.

This was my first jump into any fantasy, dark or otherwise, since I finished the last book in the Song of Ice and Fire series that’s out, probably for another twenty years if it follows G.R.R.M.’s previous writing speed. I have been trying to properly label what my reading enjoyment is, and make the effort to feed it. Horror has been my meat and potatoes for many years, but I also love science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, there are so many new sub-categories too. I have been having the year of my life literature wise, and it started with this as one of the first. I like my fiction a little darker, I like conflict, either internal or physical (why not both?), gimme complex plots, your broken characters, I don’t need to like all of them, or any of them. It doesn’t have to have a happy ending, I am ready to trust the author(s) to give me the story they want to write. So as one of my first reads out of the straight horror genre, this blew me away. The world building felt different, subtler; there was no large lore dump, it was shared naturally with the reader. It did leave me wanting more, but also not in a too little was shared at a time way, if that makes sense?

And this world seems like a place I could visit and not die in the first few minutes, unlike my usual fictional places I’d like to go, so I’m moving on up as the song would say! But just because I would not crumple like a piece of paper upon setting foot within its border does not mean this land is not without its danger; there be death in these pages. As the story progressed and more was revealed I was swept up. Emotional, in turmoil. I never really read romance novels but I feel I had a small moment, a rush of what it would be like to go overboard for a book, which made me think of all the romance readers I knew growing up. I’m invested in what went down in this kingdom, there is a sequel being written as I type this review, and I need it. You need it. You need to read this book so you can suffer so good like I am right now, wondering what is going to happen in the next book because there is some dark magic going on. Banshee mama has been treated badly, hence becoming banshee mama. Truly loved this novel, cannot wait for this story to continue.
Profile Image for Michelle T.
69 reviews1 follower
December 1, 2022
I generally don’t give self-published books a chance, but I’m very glad I did with this one. Lady Vago’s Malediction interweaves two timelines to tell a story of gothic horror and doomed love with a dash of mystery.

Initially, the past timeline reads more like a romcom with a feminist coming of age lead. We’re introduced to characters Rovena and Kalsten and their blossoming romance, and eventually follow them to court and learn more of their strengths and their flaws. Once at court, we meet two more characters that will play prime roles in pushing the story forward. The chronological end of this timeline is when the gothic horror of it all reaches its zenith. I was not expecting such ghastliness when I first began reading the novel and was appropriately taken aback. The present timeline is Rovena as a banshee, haunting the keep and trying to figure out what went so terribly wrong.

The mystery aspect is fairly straightforward in some regards. While the “how” is a shock, the “who” is not, given the lack of major side characters and process of elimination. I do not hold this against the book because it is horror, not mystery - I’m reading it for the ambiance and the goosebumps, not to Poirot my way through it.

I enjoyed Rovena as a young woman who is ambitious to make changes for the better for her husband and kingdom, and enjoyed that as a merchant, she did not have a deep understanding of the political and legal ramifications of her good intentions. Her missteps in court are understandable and she is a character who is willing to learn from her mistakes. The side by side of her tragic attempts as a banshee to slowly piece together its haunted past ensures that there are spooky vibes throughout.

This book was a quick and well paced read. Under normal circumstances I’d leave a positive but short 4-star review for it. Given that it’s so unknown right now though, it gets a longer review and 5 stars because I want to encourage others picking up and reading this book. If you’re looking for a ghost story with a little spice, this is it.
75 reviews
May 27, 2021
This was one of those books that I bought simply because the cover intrigued me. And it left me quite satisfied.
We follow a banshee that begins to remember her life as a human. She haunts the castle that somehow is connected with her current state and we begin to unravel the mystery what happened there. And from the start we know the ending of a story won't be a happy one.
The main character is a strong minded, smart and witty peasant woman dropped by the circumstances into a ruling position. There are lots of political intrigue, scheming and social injustices in this story and we can see how this strong character deals with everything.
The world has medieval vibes, but some plot lines are more modern, like female knight, women studying medicine in a university.
The magic is not that important in the most part of the story. We know about the King (or Emperor) with some supernatural powers, we know that alchemy exists and that MC has some cryptic powers that are not explained that much. But the world still feels magical.
At the beginning of the book I was a bit irritated by the way woman body is described, but thankfully that doesn't continue deep into the story. Oh, and there is some insta-love here (to be fair, MC is also confused and somewhat irritated by that).

I will add there is a huge trigger warning for some woman, but it's also a spoiler so
Profile Image for Karen A. Wyle.
Author 23 books213 followers
November 19, 2020
First things first: this novel is the first of a duology. I didn't know that going in, and contacted the authors as soon as I finished to make sure.

Second: while I rarely accede to review requests, the blurb for this book intrigued me sufficiently that I accepted a free copy in return for an honest review.

On to the book itself. I found it compelling from the first -- partly because the book starts with the later, and more atmospheric and chilling, of its two timelines. The other, earlier timeline is a narrative necessity, and it is engrossing on its own, but I regretted the extent to which it came to dominate the book, only because I had so quickly become addicted to the later Lady Vago's "voice."

There were times I found the magical elements of the worldbuilding and plot a bit difficult to follow. That may be because I was so impatient to keep going that I gave them less of a careful reading than they required. I may well go back and reread several passages.

Overall, I feel my imaginative world is the richer for having read this book, and I look forward to the second part of the duology, tentatively scheduled for this coming summer.
Profile Image for Carrie.
67 reviews
April 30, 2021
This is a well-written book. You know from the beginning that a disaster has occurred. The main character, a banshee, does not remember what happened. You discover the past with her through flashbacks. Even though I knew this wouldn't be a happy story, I was still rooting for the characters to make it.
Profile Image for Traveling Cloak.
282 reviews40 followers
December 28, 2020

Review: Lady Vago’s Malediction by A.K.M Beach
december 28, 2020 by travelingcloak, posted in reviews
Lady Vago's Malediction
Rating: 7/10


In the blackened heart of a cursed forest, a banshee haunts her crumbling castle with lethal screams.

Lady Vago is trapped in this place. She cannot fulfill her purpose as a banshee: to warn her loved ones of their deaths and watch over them while they pass. To solve the mystery of her imprisonment, she must sift through the rubble and ruin that surrounds her. By communing with old paintings, broken furniture, and even the stones themselves, she rediscovers who she was in life.

Before she was Lady Vago, she was Rovena Stoddard, a sharp-witted horse merchant’s daughter that caught the eye of a charming baron. Lord Kalsten Vago’s life as a wandering knight was over, but it inspired visions of a better life for his most vulnerable subjects. Rovena was far less afraid of bold change than his staunch and loyal steward, who saw her presence as a threat to Lord Kalsten’s success. Love and shared dreams alone wouldn’t overcome the controversy of the couple’s hasty and unequal union, as well as the trials of governing a fledgling barony—Rovena knew that. What she failed to recognize was the deeper darkness taking root in Vago lands and hearts…

Every memory of what Rovena loved is a reminder of what she lost, but she cannot let grief halt her search. Devoted spectres of ash are begging their lady for an end to their torment, and she will not let their agony–or her own–go unanswered anymore.


Lady Vago’s Malediction is the ambitious debut novel of A.K.M. Beach (a pseudonym for a husband-wife writing tandem). I thought it was a really interesting read with a unique concept.

While Lady Vago gets all the cover time, in my opinion it is the narrative that steals the show. I was actually quite confused for about half book because there are dual-storylines being presented, but the exact nature of them is not apparent early on. This appears to be by design, as the authors seem to want to let that second piece simmer until it is fully ready for consumption. This also presents a story that is very balanced, as the main narrative is a very straightforward telling of Rovena Stoddard’s journey to becoming Rovena Vago and the events that took place thereafter; the second narrative is more of a mystery at first, but it eventually becomes clear that the Lady Vago being presented here is a result of those events that took place in her life. For me, this combination really carried the book and is what drove me to keep reading.

On that note, my favorite part of the book is the beginning when Lord Kalsten is courting Rovena and the circumstances surrounding them getting to know each other. It was a nice, sweet piece of the story that gives the reader a glimpse of what could be before things start to devolve.

Character-wise, this book is 90% Rovena. Sure, there are others, but every one of them is just a conduit to get help her move the story along. Rovena’s father is a farmer and salesman who molds her personality and teaches her how to convince people to give her what she wants. She marries the Lord Kalsten Vago, becomes Lady Vago, and that puts her in a position to use her skills to become a leader and decision-maker. There are other minor characters, but not many, and none of these exist to make a huge direct impact to the story. This is Rovena’s journey alone, and, while I did like her character, I thought she could have shared the spotlight more. It is incredibly difficult for one character to pull an entire novel along on their back without being given the support they need, and I think this book could be improved by allowing for one or more of the other characters being given more of the spotlight at times.

I really think that goes for the rest of the book, as well. I did think this was a good book – and I enjoyed reading it – but I would like to have had a little more development. Many of the events felt rushed at times, almost like the authors wanted to get the story to a certain place and could not wait to share it with the reader. I get that, and I see that often with other authors. It is not intrinsically a bad thing, because it shows how passionate the author is about their work. This does manifest in there not being enough development at times, which I think this book fell victim to.

Overall, Lady Vago’s Malediction is a unique and interesting story, and I enjoyed reading it. If books with a little romance and a paranormal aspect are your thing (to be clear, NOT A PARANORMAL ROMANCE, though) I definitely recommend you give this one a go.
Profile Image for Mc Chanster.
440 reviews
October 13, 2020
Okay, so this book was stunning. It was also dramatic, and emotional and really, absolutely heart-breaking. And I could not put it down once I started.

The story of a banshee trying to find peace isn’t something new, but there was something very different about Lady Vago’s Malediction. Right from the start, I was fully invested in Rovena’s tale and from her humble beginnings to her tragic end, I was eager to learn about her life and how she had become trapped in her castle. I thought Rovena’s character was wonderfully crafted and the author took great care to create someone who has multiple layers to them. I appreciated that while the novel centered around her, I still got to know other characters and their personalities well.

The unraveling of the plot was well done – measured with enough progress that the reader is constantly devouring page after page to see what happens next. I enjoyed the few little twists in the plot and was pleasantly surprised when an assumption was proven incorrect. The ending came as a bit of a surprise, but I felt it fit well with the rest of the book and I would definitely not be opposed to a follow-up novel. Beautifully written and very much recommended!

Thank you Voracious Readers and AKM Beach for my ARC copy!
Profile Image for Carrie.
168 reviews17 followers
September 29, 2021
SPFBO Find, worth the read

This is a different sort of fantasy, and I really liked the concept. The story was great. Not perfect, but I am looking forward to the next book in the duology
Profile Image for Sean.
302 reviews9 followers
November 30, 2022
The setting here is only lightly sketched. The vast majority of the story takes place in the Vago barony which is largely indistinguishable from any other generic fantasyland setting. That’s fine, the setting isn’t the point and in fairness there are some minor aspects here or there that do add some uniqueness to the world like the immortal god/emperor.

Rovena: Rovena, in her life, was a very smart and ambitious woman. She was deeply interested in trying to better the barony and the lives of everyone in it to an almost fanatical degree, always concocting some new plan to improve this or that.

We have a split timeline here. In the current timeline Rovena is a cursed banshee, struggling to piece together her memories of her life. The second timeline consists of those memories and shows Rovena meeting, swiftly marrying, and moving in with Baron Vago then adjusting to life as a baroness.

My Thoughts:
This is a curious novel which seems not entirely certain what it’s going for. We know right from the start that something must go wrong. We’ve seen the ruined barony and the tortured soul of Lady Vago trapped there. However, for most of the page count this functions as a slice of life novel about a merchant's daughter having married a baron and adjusting to living as a baroness. We see a short courting period and then she moves in and works on finding her footing as a noble and sets about on her crusade to improve the barony. We know that something must go wrong at some point so we’re basically just waiting for whatever it is. The slice of life parts are fine for what they are but the knowledge of a catastrophic ending will likely prevent that aspect from being enjoyable in the way slice of life novels are for those interested in that.

Eventually the thing does happen, but it’s rather late into the book and the remaining page time seems focused more on set up for book two than anything else. In some respects the work as a whole feels like an overlong prologue to the story that will be included in the second novel. Based on how things end it seems like book two could be quite interesting but, while this book is not bad, it feels somewhat confused and meandering. Perhaps book two will be written in such a way as to render truly necessary everything here but from the hints as to where book two is going that seems unlikely.

This feels like the second book could have large retroactive impacts on how the first book is perceived, but without having read the second novel this is where I’m at. It’s not bad, but I question what exactly it’s trying to be and whether or not everything here was really needed for the story.
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.