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Review and Playlist: The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank

Today I am thrilled to be a part of The Curse Keepers blog tour, organized by InkSlinger PR!


The wall between our world and that of vengeful spirits has protected humanity for more than 400 years. It’s about to come crashing down. Ellie Lancaster has lived her whole life by the site of the mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Virginia settlement that vanished without a trace around 1590. Only the descendants of the two men who banished the spirits of an enemy tribe from the material realm know what really happened to the colony. Ellie is one of those descendants—a Curse Keeper. Her father took pains to teach her what he knew of the curse and the responsibilities of its guardians. He taught her that if the two Curse Keepers ever meet, the curse will be lifted, the gate will open, and the raging Native American spirits will be unleashed to seek their revenge.

Despite her father’s seriousness, Ellie has always taken the legend for a harmless fairy tale. Until she meets the darkly handsome, but downright infuriating, Collin Dailey and realizes everything she was told is true. For when they meet, it’s like the air is sucked from the room. Collin’s presence is electrifying… and it’s not just attraction Ellie feels, but the inexorable pull toward her destiny. The prophecy is real, and now Ellie and Collin must battle supernatural forces and their loathing—and passion—for each other to set things right.

The Curse Keepers are all that stand between the world and its destruction.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads


Reading the Alphabet Review

I was so excited when I saw the review opportunity come up for The Curse Keepers. The synopsis hooked me at “the Lost Colony of Roanoke” (I have been so intrigued by that mystery for years) and I could not wait to start in on the book after getting from NetGalley for the tour.

Twenty three year-old Ellie Lancaster has lived her entire life in the same place because she can’t be too far from home. Doing so makes her extremely uncomfortable. She refuses to believe that it could be a part of the curse that has followed her family for 400 years, in fact she refuses to believe in the curse and her role as a Curse Keeper at all. Believing would be to accept that her mom died as a result of the curse when Ellie was a little girl. She just wants to live her life, which includes waitressing and helping her dad and step mom at the inn they run. It isn’t a luxurious life by any means but it is the one she wants. I can’t fault her for that. I like her dedication and loyalty. She’s also rather rational on a number of issues, like why she hasn’t gone to college. I can appreciate that. She’s also quick witted in a sassy way which made her a fun character, and it was great to see her discover herself as the plot went on.

Enter Collin. Super hot and and even shadier than he is sexy, he is gruff, secretive, dedicated to his being a Curse Keeper, and yet vulnerable (yes you read that right). Watching his stony, bad boy exterior crack as he interacts with Ellie is a delight. I grew to like him the more I learned about him, but he did not reach book boyfriend status because when the bad boy tells you to not trust him, I tend to do what he says (that and I am the boy next door type of girl). Ellie’s not so rational when it comes to him.

Their relationship was enjoyable to watch as it developed from something purely curse related and full of distrust and a begrudging alliance to one of sassy banter and flirtation as they got to know one another. The scenes were fun to read and showed how well the two matched up and kept each other on their toes. I laughed out loud at some of them, just wait until you meet the Enrique alias. Then finally the scenes when their relationship blossoms into that something more, they are well written — steamy and hot without being vulgar or over the top.

The secondary characters in The Curse Keepers were well developed in the facets that needed to be and they all helped make the story complete. My favorites were Claire (Ellie’s best friend) and Ellie’s Dad. Not only do they help the story, they also enrich Ellie’s character because we see how much they care for her and her for them.

With the story revolving around the Lost Colony of Roanoke, it is understandable that setting is an important part of The Curse Keepers. Swank does a great job describing Manteo, and the surrounding areas in North Carolina. Having never been there myself, although I have a visit to that area on my To-Go List, I could still feel the heat of the summer, hear the bustle of the busy tourist season, and grasp the closeness of the small town where Ellie has lived her whole life. I want to go here and see the places that provided inspiration for the locations in the book (names have been changed).

The Curse Keepers is a gripping blend of the paranormal, self-discovery, action, and romance. I enjoyed reading it immensely and I think that one of the only drawbacks of the book is that the next one is not out, because I have a book hangover that wants Book 2 as its next fix. Don’t wait to read it though for Book 2. I have a feeling it will be worth the wait. I definitely recommend this to New Adult readers of the paranormal romance and fantasy genres.


I am such a big fan of authors’ playlists, and I even create them for books that I read as well as for my own WIP,  so I am thrilled to bring you The Curse Keepers Playlist with songs chosen by the author!

The Curse Keepers Playlist

For me, music is essential to writing. I listen to music to write and I listen to it to become inspired. I came up with the idea for THE CURSE KEEPERS seven months before I began to write it. I had several books ahead of it then I sold the series to 47North. Then there was all the research. I created a bibliography page on website and listed twenty-one sources.

But just because I wasn’t writing, it didn’t mean I wasn’t plotting. And when I’m plotting, I’m often listening to music.

One of the very first songs I put on THE CURSE KEEPERS playlist was Relient K’s Sahara.  This song is for Collin Dailey, the Manteo descendant Curse Keeper. The first thing that grabbed me was the tempo. It’s fast. It’s catchy. Then I heard the lyrics.

The refrain captures the core of Collin, a theme that spans the entire book.

So I’ll ask one thing
Just one thing of you
Don’t ever turn me loose
Even when I turn my back 

Usually songs I pick for the playlist tie to a character and often a particular scene. THE CURSE KEEPERS is first person, told from Ellie’s perspective. The odd part of the playlist for this book is that many of the songs on the playlist are Collin-centric. I think it unconsciously evolved this way because Collin is such a complicated character. While we’re in Ellie’s head the entire book and know what she’s thinking, we only see Collin through her eyes.  Still, I needed to know what he was thinking so I could gauge his reactions accordingly. Connecting to him through music was the way for me to manage that.

Linkin Park’s Somewhere I Belong fits the Collin we begin to see by the middle of the book. Ellie brings out a side to Collin that he never exposes.

I wanna heal, I wanna feel what I thought was never real
I wanna let go of the pain I’ve felt so long
(Erase all the pain till it’s gone)
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m close to something real
I wanna find something I’ve wanted all along
Somewhere I belong 

 The last song is also Collin-centric. Collin is drawn to Ellie, even though he resists. Ellie doesn’t make it easy for him. The more time he spends with her, the more he lets his guard down—the guard he’s spent his entire life fortifying.

I’m lost in you everywhere I run
Everywhere I turn I’m finding something new
Lost in you, something I can’t fight
I cannot escape
I could spend my life lost in you. Lost in you. 

Play list:

Theme song: Relient K, Forget and Not Slow Down Sahara
Matt Nathanson, Modern Love Love Comes Tumbling Down
Breaking Benjamin, Dear Agony, Into the Nothing
Sara Barielles, Little Voice, Gravity
Bruno Mars, Unortodox Jukebox, Locked out of Heaven
Taylor Swift, Red, I Knew You Were Trouble
Linkin Park, Meteora, Somewhere I Belong
Maroon 5, Songs About Jane, Secret
Maroon 5, Songs About Jane, Tangled
Maroon 5, Songs About Jane, Sweetest Goodbye
Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism, Lightness


Cathryn Farley Photography
About Denise Grover Swank

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty Facebook comments (in own her mind) and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.


This is an amazing Blog Tour Line-Up! Be sure to stop by some of the other lovely tour hosts’ blogs!

November 18

Nicely Phrased-Excerpt

Kat’s Book Buzz-Review Only

November 19

Made For You Book Reviews-Review Only

Wine Books & Fringe-Guest Post

November 20

Mary Elizabeth’s Crazy Book Obsession-Author Interview & Review

Reading Rainblog-Review Only

November 21

The Geekery Book Review-Guest Post

Books to Get Lost In-Review Only

November 22

Reading the Alphabet-Playlist & Review Only

Brittany & Bianca Blab Books-Excerpt

November 23

Lovin Los Libros-Author Interview & Review

The Sarcastic Palmtree-Character Interview

November 24

Rumpled Sheets Book Blog-Guest Post

Such A Novel Idea-Review Only

November 25

Paperbook Princess-Guest Post & Review Only

Sun Mountain Reviews-Review Only

November 26

Chapter Break-Author Interview & Review Only

Lis Les Livres-Excerpt

November 27

Seeing Night Reviews-Review Only

TBQ’s Book Palace-Review Only

November 28

Make My Day Book Club-Review Only

TSK TSK What To Read-Excerpt

November 29

Pretty Girls Read Books-Guest Post & Review

November 30

Reader Girls-Review Only

A Life Bound By Books-Character POV

December 1

Book Briefs-Dream Cast & Review

Meredith & Jennifer’s Musings-Review Only