For Better or Cursed by Kate Williams is the wildly anticipated sequel to the Babysitter’s Coven. After the first book, picking up in the Christmas for Better or Cursed returns with the same energy.
Esme Pearl’s life turned upside down on Halloween when she learned she’s apart of a secret Sitter society that banishes demons. With her partner Cassandra Heaven, they kept her evil father from returning to the world with his Red Magic. Things are starting to seem familiar again (as usual as fighting demons can be) when the Synod decides it’s time to hold the Summit. The Summit is a once in a decade gathering that promises training, education, and of course, a crazy party.
Let me get my first gripe out of the way. I know, you’re probably thinking, Andee- don’t you usually tell us more about the story? Yeah, I typically do. But this plot was so insane and all over the place with useless information that even the Esme remarks at one point:
“I tried not to think about how much time Cassandra and I had lost to this insane interlude.”
I also tried not to think about how much time I, as the reader, lost to another useless distraction from the main plot. Much like the first book, we have endless paragraphs of descriptions of outfits. This would be fine if there was a more sensible plot, and I wasn’t trying to just get to the fucking story (sorry for cursing), but alas, that was not the case. My secondary gripe was this quote here:
“We are,” she said, “After we go to Chik-Fil-A.”
“You know they’re homophobes, right?” I asked.
Janis grimaced and nodded. “I know, I know,” she said, “but…”
We finished the sentence together: “Waffle fries.”
You may not recall from the first book, but Esme’s partner in Sitter Coven is queer. Cassandra likes girls. Esme said, I know they hate your fundamental human rights, but those fries, though! This was in the first 12% of the book, and for it to be a young YA book, I don’t like the lesson that that line teaches. It seems like an innocent joke, but it’s really telling that Esme does not care about any struggles Cassandra may go through. Esme shows this a lot with her relationship with Cassandra, and she’s an entirely unlikable character. She’s naïve and foolish, and instead of just talking to people, she lets things get so big that they blow up on her. Too much of this plot focused on hiding things from people who needed to know what was going on. Instead of focusing on that, the story takes a drastic turn to something entirely different.
“Cass, needing help, being sick, doesn’t mean you’re weak. It just means you’re a human being. Whatever this is, it’s nuts, and I don’t want you to get hurt.”
This book ended on a cliffhanger, but I found the characters so infuriating that I don’t care to read the third one. The first book was fun and a quick read. This second book suffered heavily from sequel syndrome and was painful to complete. There didn’t feel like there was any growth from one book to the next. The plot didn’t seem to add anything except padding to the author’s wallet.
The only characters in this story who deserve rights are Janis and Pig. No one else. I don’t care about anyone else in this book, and I don’t care what happens to them. Needless to say, this was a 2-star read.
Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.