Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Publisher: Ecco
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One of contemporary fiction's most prolific authors, Joyce Carol Oates got super dark in her latest dumbbell/novel, The Accursed. It's a period drama set between 1905 and 1906 in and around Princeton University (where Oates teaches). Historian M.W. van Dyck II is working through an intense amount of research materials in order to unravel the mystery of "The Curse," a plague that turned townsfolk into everything from zombies to vampires and, in one baby's case, some kind of snake-human monstrosity.

Oates has conceived a dizzying horror novel that doubles as a historical epic, a Gothic creepshow that's massive in scope but intimate in its terror. —Matt Barone