“Cursed Waters” by Stanley Nesbitt

“Cursed Waters” by Stanley Nesbitt 172 265 Reader Views Kids

Cursed Waters

Stanley Nesbitt
Independently Published (2022)
ISBN: 979-8797661825
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (03/2023)

“Cursed Waters” by Stanley Nesbitt is about a young 16-year-old named William. Having spent the last years scraping up what work he and his younger brother could manage just to keep their mother and siblings fed, William is left feeling bitter about the confines of his home, his town and what seems to him to be a drab future. When a ship pulls into port prior to departing on a grand adventure, William stows away, telling himself (and his family) that he is doing so for his family—to earn a better living. Is he truly leaving on a long journey to provide for his family? Or is he merely taking the opportunity to escape the confined, cramped life he’s resented for too long?

“Cursed Waters” is an adventure novel with touches of fantasy intertwined through the plot. The premise of journeying across the sea to discover new lands and find buried treasures has been a common, thrilling plot point for not just writers, but generations of humans themselves. I thought the introduction of the “cursed” sailors with their varying deformities and irregularities was not only a great way to introduce those elements of fantasy and magic into the book, but it was also a clever way to highlight how people who look different or have disabilities are often prejudiced and discriminated against unjustly. Sure, a “curse” may look gruesome at times or seem to suggest that the afflicted person may be dangerous, but usually those fears people have are influenced more by their own insecurities about how to belong and fit in with the mainstream masses than they are supported by actual examples of the “cursed” actually being bad or dangerous. 

While I enjoyed these unique nuances in the development of the various characters, I did wish that “Cursed Waters” gave me a little more in the way of visual details. Sometimes, during the more intense action scenes, I had a hard time visualizing what was supposed to be happening. At times, this made me have to go back and re-read some excerpts two or three times to really understand what was going on. I think the book also could have benefitted from another round of editing, as there were some spelling, grammatical and mechanical errors that did distract from the reading and flow of the book at times. 

Despite these notes, “Cursed Waters” does have a lot of potential, and I think it would do really well targeted at an audience of middle grade and teenage boys. I don’t always see a lot of books specifically aimed at this age group, so it makes me happy to see new books like this come on the market. The way the characters interacted, the tone of the book and the pacing and magical elements actually reminded me a lot of books like the “Percy Jackson” series at times. I am definitely interested in reading more from this author in the future!

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