Top critical review
Skippable second entry in the Shadowvale Series
Reviewed in the United States on July 22, 2021
The Vampire's Cursed Kiss is the second book in the Shadowvale series by Kristen Painter. As per my review for book one, The Trouble with Witches, I have enjoyed other books by Ms Painter as they are typically light-hearted and fun, easy to read and not too intense. However, as painful as this is for me to say, I have really struggled to like this new series. The Vampire's Cursed Kiss is probably the weakest book I have read from Ms Painter and moving forward I will likely give it a miss should I decide to re-read the series.
If you have read Ms Painter's Nocturne Fall's series, there has been no tie in or common character that I have noted between the two series so don't expect to be hearing about other favourite characters from the Nocturne Fall's Universe. I am unsure if there are any plans in the future to tie together these two series and a part of me does hope that we will get something in later books. I have both read and listened to the audiobook of this story. With the Audio version, I had the same issue that I had with The Trouble with Witches, which is that Ms Painter has chosen to have the same narrator - B.J. Harrison, narrate both the Nocturne Falls and Shadowvale stories. Mr Harrison is a commendable narrator and I have always enjoyed listening to him. However, since these two series are not related, I would have enjoyed someone else voicing the characters. I kept finding myself thinking of Nocturne Falls characters whilst listening.
Now onto the book!
Shadowvale is a town that has been hidden from the normal human world. A place that has become home for humans as well as the supernatural and mythological creatures. Most who share this town seem to be cursed in one way or another which can cause all sorts of shenanigans and conflict. I love the idea of being able to bring different species into the one place and have them interact with each other. For example, there is a bakery that is owned and operated by the daughter of Famine (from The Four Horseman) and to get back at her father she gives away all the food for free.
Our main protagonists are Andromeda 'Andi' Merriweather (Sprite) and Constantin Thibodeaux (Vampire). They meet when Constantin opens a book called 'The Hidden History of Insane Asylums in 19th Century Europe' and Andi is released from it after being cursed into the book a year prior. Whilst we learn quickly that her sister is the one to have cursed Andi, we don't find out the why until fairly late in the book. Constantin doesn't have any time for Andi and pretty much tries to shove her out the door as soon as she appears, but there is more to the curse than just being stuck in a horrible book for the past year. Andi needs to spend time with Constantin in order to fulfil the rest of requirements so she does lie to him and tell him she needs 3 kisses spaced over 6 days that are given with free will and intent. She also informs him that there is an invisible tether that will keep her close to Constantin until the curse is broken or the week has elapsed and she ends up back in the book for all eternity.
He reluctantly allows her to stay and the first half of the book I enjoyed. They spend time together and get to know each other a little bit more. Andi who is a free spirit and very social helps Constantin get out and enjoy himself. Try new things. Forget about his old fiancé who stood him up on the day of the wedding. Move past his jealousy of his brother who he thinks everything comes easy to. He really seems to be loosening up a bit and allowing Andi to break down a lot of his barriers. However, that then all flips in the second half and he becomes a character that I loathed by the end.
Here is my problem, there is no time spent explaining the conditions of Andi's imprisonment within the book apart from a few throw away comments. Surely, being locked into a book about Insane Asylums from the 1900's would have been traumatic. Could she eat, could she sleep, how did she stay safe! Upon Andi's release we also learn that her sister has also taken away her wings, the source of her magic. She is pretty much human. Yet despite all this, it all falls to Andi to make things better for everyone. She is the one feeling bad, apologising and sacrificing everything in order to make things right. Constantin may have had a bad breakup in the past but that in no way gives him a free pass to treat ANYONE like he does Andi. Honestly, I don't think this couple should have ended up together. I would have much preferred Andi find someone who didn't act like a man-child and was willing to listen to her and appreciate everything she did.
In summary, the first half of the book is enjoyable, but the second half is very disappointing. I won’t be reading this one again and for new readers I think you can skip this entry all together. At the time of writing this review I have already read book 3 and book 4 in the series and those are much better instalments to move onto.