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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
My Cursed Heart is a dark fantasy novella written by Steve Zimcosky and illustrated by Ivetic Vicai. His plane was landing at the Cleveland Airport on his way to attend his elder brother’s funeral when he was drawn back in his memory to a moment when he was ten years old. It was when his grandfather died, and his father was crying as they stood together at the cemetery. He still couldn’t quite wrap his mind around the awful fact that his grandfather, father and, now, his brother, had all died at the age of 65 years, and they had all died of massive heart attacks. Yet, they were all hale and hearty and free of any heart ailments before they died.
He’d be 65 himself in a few years, and the fatalistic notion that he too would die, no matter what he did to protect himself, loomed heavy over him. He did remember hearing his grandmother and his Aunt Kate discussing, in whispered tones, a family curse, and agreeing that the curse had claimed his grandfather’s life. His sister, Ivy, scoffed at him when he shared that long ago conversation, but her eyes showed both disbelief and fear. How could their family have been cursed like this and why? His research would lead him first to Smock, Pennsylvania, where his Aunt Helen lived, and eventually deep into the heart of Europe in the 1700s.
My Cursed Heart reaches into a shared, ancient fear of curses and the evil beings who are able to destroy lives simply with the recitation of a few hateful words. I loved sharing in the narrator’s search as he sought to learn more about his family’s history and followed those clues that led him back into the dark forested places of the past. Zimcosky’s plot is intricate and clever, and his characters are credible and finely honed. Ivetic Vicai’s lovely colored illustrations bring the legend and the parties to that ancient curse to life most vividly. This well written and absorbing tale kept me happily reading from first word to last, and I’m hoping to come across more work by this talented author. My Cursed Heart is most highly recommended.