"Joyce Carol Oates has written what may be the world's finest postmodern Gothic novel: E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime set in Dracula's castle. It's dense, challenging, problematic, horrifying, funny, prolix and full of crazy people. You should read it." —Stephen King, New York Times Book Review
Princeton, New Jersey at the turn of the 20th century: a tranquil place to raise a family, a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at the edges of the town, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent. A powerful curse besets the elite families of Princeton—their daughters begin disappearing. A young bride on the verge of the altar is seduced and abducted by a dangerously compelling man—a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince who might just be the devil, and who spreads his curse upon a richly deserving community of white Anglo-Saxon privilege. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.
When the bride's brother sets out against all odds to find her, his path will cross those of Princeton's most formidable people, from Grover Cleveland, fresh out of his second term in the White House and retired to town for a quieter life, to soon-to-be commander in chief Woodrow Wilson, president of the University, and a complex individual obsessed to the point of madness with his need to retain power; from the young Socialist idealist Upton Sinclair, to his charismatic comrade Jack London, and the most famous writer of the era, Samuel Clemens/ Mark Twain—all plagued by "accursed" visions.
Narrated with Oates's unmistakable psychological insight, The Accursed combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling supernatural elements to stunning effect.