“Kelly’s Curse,” is not Pernell Rogers’ first self-published work, but it could be. The story concept is compelling. Rogers can create lively descriptions and setup for challenging conflicts. Despite this, the narrative struggles to enthrall the reader because it lacks active language, depth and character development.
Kelly’s mother never honestly considered the supernatural consequences of keeping with family tradition when naming her son, until they threatened to tear her family asunder.
The concept of “Kelly’s Curse” is downright cool. Supernatural powers passed through generations by namesake? Love it! Rogers clearly thought out the details for the hint of magic in his world and brought out some interesting conflicts with it. He can create vivid descriptions concisely, which adds lovely imagery without taking up too much story space.
The narrative itself needs work. Much of “Kelly’s Curse” is told to (rather than experienced by) the reader, effectively preventing engagement. This happens frequently through conversations, or characters thinking to themselves, about things that have happened, instead of letting the reader live through it with the characters. The resultant writing style turns exciting events into boring re-tellings; an effect further compounded by the time spent on mundane activities, like eating dinner with the family. With a few exceptions, most of the characters also fall flat because they are so good – as in: nice, loving, successful people with very little in the way of flaws. Such niceness means most opportunities for story twists and challenges aren’t capitalized on. Conflict is basically limited to that directly caused by the ‘curse’, and the depth and complexity of the story are severely restricted.
I came away from reading “Kelly’s Curse” feeling like I had just read a good short story that was watered down to mediocrity with inconsequential musing in order to hit a short novel wordcount. Although I was disappointed by the execution of this book, I do think Pernell Rogers is an author with great potential as he continues to hone his craft. This novel is interesting enough to check out, especially if you are an experimental reader who enjoys following the progression of an author’s skill. You could consider it a sort of baseline sample to compare with Rogers’ future creations and see how he improves over time. I know I intend to do just that.
Amanda King – March 19, 2020