The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates - review by Scott Bradfield

Scott Bradfield

Back to Blood

The Accursed


Fourth Estate 669pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

There is no rest for the weary devotee of Joyce Carol Oates, who writes books faster than most readers can consume them, spewing forth large literary novels, variously sized young-adult novels, novellas, thick collections of short stories, essays and reviews, and even batches of thrillers under pseudonyms. The most frustrating part about being a fan of Oates’s work (and I consider myself one) has to do with simple logistics: which books should we read next and why should we choose this particular book over all those others? This is because while many of her books and stories are very good (collections such as Haunted and The Collector of Hearts or her novel You Must Remember This), others are just mildly good. As a result of these constantly mounting opportunities and missed opportunities, anybody who decides to read one of Oates’s recent novels or collections will find themselves trapped in a quandary of self-doubt.

Oates is not a genre writer, but like most writers sincerely engaged in the job of telling stories, she isn’t afraid of genre motifs, and The Accursed is packed to the gills with them: ghouls, succubi, vampires, body snatchers, a plague of snakes consorting with schoolgirls, child-devouring beasts in the

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter