A review by arielmarkenjack
Curse Corvus by Alex Ebenstein

dark emotional sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix


The #sfnovellaofthemonth for March 2023 is Curse Corvus by Alex Ebenstein, forthcoming in April 2023 from Ebenstein’s own Dread Stone Press.

I like a good story that uses horror tropes to examine the discomfort of a disintegrating relationship. Horror may not be the only lens through which such a story may be seen, but--for me, at least--it is often the lens which provides the most compelling view.

Curse Corvus handily delivers the horror of a once-close friendship that has turned into something unsettled and upsetting. The deliciously atmospheric narrative details--dead birds, ritualized tattooing, an eerily staged abandoned wedding dress--that fuel the plot do an excellent job of setting up the impression that what is truly horrific is losing a friend. None of what happens leading up to the book's inevitably awful conclusion would be so bad if its central characters could stick together--but then, central characters sticking together is so often antithetical to a really good horror tale.

Unlike his subject matter, Ebenstein's prose is really very nice. Its timbre and tone are well suited to the voice of his somewhat sympathetic, somewhat abrasive narrator. This is such a readable little book that it may well compell you to eat it up in a single sitting.

This is also really very nice as an aesthetic object. The cover art is vividly interesting, and the interior illustrations (something of a rarity in a novella) are quite well done and excellently suited to the book's general atmosphere. I'll admit I asked Alex for an advance reader copy based largely on the cover art, but I promise that the contents live up to the expectation set up by their presentation.

If you like books that unflinchingly tackle difficult themes--such as envy, jealousy, toxic work culture, and toxic personal relationships--while offering up a genuinely entertaining reading experience, I would recommend that you give Curse Corvus a go.