Review: Lyrics & Curses by Candace Robinson

by Justine Bergman
Lyrics & Curses by Candace Robinson
Lyrics & Curses by Candace Robinson

SERIES: Cursed Hearts (#1)
PUBLISHED: November 11, 2020 by Midnight Tide Publishing
PAGES: 314
GENRE: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult



The Blurb

Lark Espinoza could get lost in her music—and she’s not so sure anyone in her family would even care to find her. Her trendy, party-loving twin sister and her mother-come-lately Beth, who’s suddenly sworn off men and onto homemaking, don’t understand her love of cassette tapes, her loathing of the pop scene, or her standoffish personality. For outcast Lark, nothing feels as much like a real home as working at Bubble’s Oddities store and trying to attract the attention of the cute guy who works at the Vinyl shop next door—the same one she traded lyrical notes with in class.

Auden Ellis silences the incessant questions in his own head with a steady stream of beats. Despite the unconditional love of his aunt-turned-mother, he can’t quit thinking about the loss of his parents—or the possibility he might end up afflicted with his father’s issues. Despite his connection with lyric-loving Lark, Auden keeps her at arm’s length because letting her in might mean giving her a peek into something dangerous.

When two strangers arrive in town, one carrying a mysterious, dark object and the other playing an eerie flute tune, Lark and Auden find that their painful pasts have enmeshed them in a cursed future. Now, they must come to terms with their budding attraction while helping each other challenge the reflection they see in the mirror. If they fail, they’ll be trapped for eternity in a place beyond reality.

*Set in 1985 and full of nostalgia! Perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Pretty in Pink!

The Review


A true testament to the communicative power of music, Lyrics & Curses is the latest dazzling novel from author Candace Robinson, book one in her Cursed Hearts duology. Robinson has perfected the recipe for this superb treat – part Contemporary YA, part Paranormal, part Thriller, with a dash of romance and a healthy pinch of nostalgia. Within its pages the lives of two teens become entwined by forces unknown, while unnatural, and at times terrifying, happenings lurk in the periphery. This is a tale of searching for that one person that understands you even if you don’t yet understand yourself. Someone to put your complete trust in, believing wholeheartedly they’ll see past the flaws and be there waiting to catch you when you fall. It touches upon some of the darker aspects of life, including mental illness and death, but it never loses sight of the bright light at the end of the tunnel. This book was a thoroughly entertaining and refreshing read for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing where we’re taken in the second and final book of the series.

Lyrics & Curses is very much a character-driven narrative, revolving around a cast of characters that wonderfully exemplifies life as a young adult. The story itself is told through alternating points of view; one belonging to Lark, a young woman determined to go against the grain who’s unable to let go of the pains of the past, and Auden, a man timid of attachment due to his fear of inheriting the violent nature of his father. Both are plagued by memories shadowed by heartache, and both are afraid to let their emotions surface. The only way they can properly express how they truly feel is through their love of music, scribbling lyrics to each other and sharing their favorite vinyls and cassettes. As the story progresses readers witness their hardened shells begin to crack from the barrage of snark and solidarity until they’re laid bare with only each other to depend on. There’s something special about this awkward, yet genuine bond between the two, and I’m excited to see where their relationship takes them next.

At the heart of this story lies a collection of curious ongoings stemming from the mysterious appearance of a strange duo while eerie music drifts upon warm summer winds. Robinson crafts a captivating tale with psychological thriller flavors, keeping you on your toes anxiously awaiting for the other shoe to inevitably drop. An unsettling encounter that carries along some harmless poltergeist behavior simmers for a bit, then explodes into a deadly whirlwind of misfortune touching upon the lives of all. Filled to the brim with riddles and the supernatural, this is a story that starts with a light and lively air, but transforms into a deeply emotional yarn, which I found to be a lovely surprise.

When the author promoted this book as “Stranger Things meets Pretty in Pink”, how could I possibly say no? Taking place in an oppressively hot Texas summer in the 1980s, Robinson perfectly captures the vibes of one of the most colorful decades in recent history. Everything from fashion – complete with leotards, teased hair, and an endless supply of bangles – to the inclusion of music and oddity shops (remember these?!) to the CHOICE period-specific terminology, diving into this book was like entering a portal in time. Each chapter heading contains a hit song from the decade, and I couldn’t help but hum the tunes each time I came across one. While I was born at the tail end of the 80s, the nostalgia is too real, and I absolutely adored how she included all these perfect little tidbits.

Lyrics & Curses was a book that immediately piqued my interest as soon as I was invited to participate in the cover reveal earlier this year, and while it’s a bit different from what I usually read, I had a blast with this one. The main story arc ties up nicely, but the epilogue opens a whole new can of worms, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Though the book is directed towards a younger audience, it’s one that could definitely be enjoyed by adult readers – the 80s references making it the perfect vehicle to bring back memories of simpler times. The uniqueness of its paranormal concepts is only shadowed by the authenticity Robinson imbues in this lovely little tale of hers. If you’re on the hunt for a fun romp filled with the unknown, as well as the best music the 80s had to offer, then Lyrics & Curses is the one you’re looking for. I highly recommend.

My Rating: 4

NOTE: A huge thank you to the author for a complementary advance copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

The Author

Candace RobinsonCandace Robinson spends her days consumed by words and hoping to one day find her own DeLorean time machine. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, watching classic movies, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas–where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next!

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