by M. K. Yarbrough
“Shadow Curse” picks up one year later. Brendon and Lisa have broken up ugly. Her mother,
Cruella Deville Monica Stratton, has moved her family to San Luis Obispo, far away from Brendon. That fall, Brendon had gone on to Stanford on a full scholarship. Embittered over his and Lisa’s breakup, Brendon has changed. His anger and ego are closer to the surface, and he has been indulging in the affections of wayward college girls. (i.e., mounting anything that moves).
One day, Lisa shows up at his dorm room unannounced. She wanted to see if there was anything salvageable in their relationship, sure, but her real reason was far less pleasant. It seems the demon has come back. Kyle Stratton published a paper about his experience, including the general location where the demon had been buried. Two idiot students rode up there on ATV’s, and unearthed the demon, just to see if the story was true.
You can imagine how that turned out.
So Lisa comes to Stanford to beg Brendon to look into the situation with her.
Matters get complicated when Kyle Stratton shows up, pounding on Lisa’s motel room door, where she and Brendon lay inside. Lisa kinda sorta forgot to mention to Brendon that she’d run away from home to run this errand, and that she’d been using her mom’s credit card to pay for everything.
Mr Stratton is understandably angry, and grudgingly agrees to go see the possessed idiot before dropping Brendon at the bus station, and driving Lisa home to ground her for life. There’s a problem. Brendon has had dreams of the demon. In the hospital, he senses evil, and he knows that this time, the demon’s target is Lisa.
He argues Mr Stratton into driving to his grandmother’s house, which is protected by charms and barriers Brandon had never even known about. There, they hole up, until Mrs Stratton–who, rather than being grateful and kind toward Brendon after saving her husband, now fervently loathes him–comes and moves her family to the local Indian casino hotel.
The young couple’s love is rekindled, despite the spiteful Mrs Stratton, and they work together with the possessed boy’s father to set up another exorcism. Things happen, and the exorcism has to be moved up a couple of days. Brendon isn’t prepared, but he has no choice. So it’s back to the hills, and back into battle with his demonic enemy.
I enjoyed “Shadow Keeper” (Book one of the trilogy) because of its easy pace. There was no rush, and M.K. Yarbrough took the time to flesh-out her characters, and to create the world these characters inhabit. “Shadow Curse” is not at all subtle. The flames are flaring from the first page to the last. Some concern the Brendon-Lisa relationship–and her parents’ stern disapproval–and others relate to the demon, and the perilous battle that lay ahead.
While the pacing was more frenetic, the characters still had time to grow. Brendon’s siblings have matured a lot during the past year, and Lisa has grown stronger, too. In real life, people don’t stay exactly the same from year to year. Things happen, and changes result. Ms Yarbrough does an excellent job in showing these changes, while remaining true to their inner natures.
In the end, as a storm dumps rain and blows wind, Brendon once again faces the demon. In many ways, the demon is the least of his battles. The most dangerous, sure, but his biggest fights are to protect the woman he loves from forces both demonic and parental.
It’s a joy watching him try. “Shadow Curse” is very different from “Shadow Keeper.” One thing that remains unchanged is that they’re both absolute joys to read.