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Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Book Title: The Curse Giver
Author: Dora Machado
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Publishing Date: July 4, 2013
Length: 510 pages
Source: Author via Tour Organizer for review

Lusielle's bleak but orderly life as a remedy mixer is shattered when she is sentenced to die for a crime she didn't commit. She's on the pyre, about to be burned, when a stranger breaks through the crowd and rescues her from the flames.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia is the last of his line. He is caught in the grip of a mysterious curse that has murdered his kin, doomed his people and embittered his life. To defeat the curse, he must hunt a birthmark and kill the woman who bears it in the foulest of ways. Lusielle bears such a mark.

Stalked by intrigue and confounded by the forbidden passion flaring between them, predator and prey must come together to defeat not only the vile curse, but also the curse giver who has already conjured their demise.

Lusielle, our protagonist, is on the run from they pyre, sentenced to death - accused by none other than her slimy, abusive, tyrannical husband. Isn't it bad enough that she's been suffering from this monster of a husband? Accused of being one of the "Odds" she was tortured brutally, incomprehensibly, and unimaginably. She was set on fire to die, burning alive in the town square, near the brink of death.

Brennus, "Bren" the lord of Laonia, is on a quest to find the marked one and kill her to break the family the curse, the curse that has killed his father and three brothers, leaving him the only remaining member of the House of Uras. If he doesn't break the course, not only will he die in an agonizing manner, but his beloved homeland and its people will forever suffer in misery and blight. Believing that the marked one will lead to the curse's cure, Bren and his "twenty" are on the chase for the past decade.

By the time Bren locates one of the marked, Lusielle, she's tied to a pole, set on fire, about to be burned alive. Bren & the Twenty rescue Lusielle knowing he must also kill her for the curse to break. However, for no reason he can comprehend, Bren could not bring himself to do the deed, even though his men insist as time is short. Something, some inexplicable reason compels Bren not to carry out the deed and instead he nurses Lusielle back to health.

The two inadvertently end up on the run, hiding from Lusielle's torturers, the evil king's men and Bren's foremost enemy who is out to see that the house of Uras is destroyed completely and Bren dead for no other reason than power, greed, and hatred.

Lusielle and Bren are forced to assist one another through the treacherous, man-swallowing, killing bog. It is through these trials that both develop mutual feelings of care, like, and gradually, love for one another. It is in Lusielle's nature to lend help whenever and wherever she can that pushes her to help Bren at first. But she eventually learns that her actions are motivated by something deeper than this beneficence much like Bren learns about himself towards her. The two venture into numerous hardships; it seems that every which way they turn, there is something against them. Still, with grit and determination, this couple forges on. When one becomes hopeless, the other encourages, mostly Lusielle who has a hopeful outlook on life.

The Twenty, Bren's loyal group of men who have sworn their lives until death to serve him in his quest, slowly come to trust and care for this special little mistress as well. No longer "the woman" and "the wench", Lusielle's become a lady as they realize their lord has fallen for Lusielle. Although they feel there is no real future for them, they see that Lusielle is good for their lord. One of the Twenty eventually is even assigned for life to protect and serve Lusielle with his life. One of the toughest and strongest of the bunch at that! At first resentful, Severo, the bodyguard, comes to respect, care, and even love his Mistress Lusielle.

Their toils and troubles are immense, but these two are determined to break the curse, prevent Bren's decent into madness and death, like his father and brothers before him. Bren realizes he needs Lusielle although he doesn't feel he deserves her care or love. He is amazed at how she doesn't treat him like the plague with his family's curse history, something that he finds incomprehensible.

All seems dire. There isn't a resolution to the unavoidable curse. Bren, having no choice or solution, accepts his lot, his ague, the pain, and the madness. Lusielle, however, isn't about to accept that. Her quest to find the cursebreaker, to save Laonia, Bren's beloved land and its people, and in doing so learning more about herself, she quests on.

This fantasy tale is tremendous! So human, so well woven, a total tapestry. It was hard to put down despite its length. At every turn there was more to anticipate. The adventures the two characters face are most incredible and yet real. All of the characters are so well-developed, they jump from the pages becoming fully three-dimensional. Although a fantasy, this book is so well-crafted that it is totally believable. I felt as if I was glimpsing into the past, at something that truly happened somewhere in time. I would recommend this to all readers of every age. Total page turner, heart-twisting adventure! Loved it. 

Dora Machado is the award winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books July 2013. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats. 
To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at  

Subscribe to her blog at , sign up for her newsletter at  and follow her on Facebook and  Twitter. 

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit

About Dora Machado's Novels:

Dora Machado is the award winning author of the Stonewiser trilogy and her newest novel, The Curse Giver. She is one of the few Latinas exploring her heritage and her world through the epic fantasy genre today. Her first novel, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, won the 2009 Benjamin Franklin award for best debut novel. Her second novel, Stonewiser: The Call of the Stone, won the 2010 Independent Publishers Book Award's (IPPY) Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy book of the year. Her third novel, Stonewiser: The Lament of the Stone, won the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Award's (IPPY) Silver Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy book of the year. All three novels were finalists in ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Category. Her latest novel, The Curse Giver from Twilight Times Books is available July 2013.

Twitter: @DoraMachado or
Amazon Author Central: 

The Curse Giver Chapter One

    Dread stared at Lusielle from the depths of the rowdy crowd. Concealed under a heavy hood, only the stranger’s black eyes dared to meet her gaze among the growing throng. The man’s eyes refused to flinch or shift from her face. His stare was free of the hatred she had gotten from the others, but also devoid of mercy. He held on to her gaze like an anchor to her soul, testing her fortitude, knowing full well her fears’ vast range.

She had always been meant for the fire. Even as she had escaped the blaze that killed her parents and burned the inn to the ground, Lusielle had known that the flame’s greedy god would return to claim her life. But she hadn’t expected it to happen after days of torture, surrounded by the raging mob, found guilty of a crime she didn’t commit, betrayed and condemned.

The town’s cobbler, one of her husband’s best customers, tightened the noose around her neck until it cut off her breath. She had waited on him countless times at the shop, and had always padded his order with a free measure of coriander to help with his wife’s cough.

But none of the town’s inhabitants seemed to remember any of her kindnesses as of late. On the contrary, the crowd was booing and jeering when they weren’t pelting her with rotten fruit. They treated her as if she were a common thief.

The brute who had conducted her torture shoved the cobbler aside, tying her elbows and wrists around the wooden stake. Orell. She remembered his name. His bearded face might have been handsome if not for the permanent leer. Like the magistrate, he wore the king’s burgundy colors, but his role had been more vicious. Had he been granted more time, he might have succeeded at extracting the false confession he wanted, but the magistrate was in a hurry, afraid of any possible unrest.

Orell yanked on the ropes, tightening her bonds. The wound on her back broke open all over again. She swallowed a strangled hiss. It was as if the thug wanted her to suffer, as if he had a private reason to profit from her pain.

But she had never seen him until three days ago, when he and the magistrate had shown up unannounced, making random accusations.

Lusielle couldn’t understand any of this.

She knew that the king’s justice was notoriously arbitrary. It was one of the main reasons why she loathed living under King Riva’s rule. But she also knew better than to express her opinion. Ruin and tragedy trailed those who dared to criticize the king. That’s why she had never mentioned her misgivings to anyone.

What had she done to deserve this fate? And why did they continue to be so cruel? After all, she wasn’t fighting them anymore.

True, she had resisted at first. Out of fear and pride, she had tried to defend herself. But in the end, it hadn’t mattered. Her accusers had relied on the testimony of the devious liar who had turned her in—Aponte Rummins—her own husband.

The mock hearing had been too painful to bear, too absurd to believe. Aponte swore before the magistrate that Lusielle was a secret practitioner of the forbidden odd arts. It was ridiculous. How could anyone believe that she, who had always relied on logic, measure and observation to mix her remedies, could possi¬bly serve the Odd God’s dark purposes? And how could anyone believe Aponte’s lies?

But they did, they believed him as he called on his paid witnesses and presented fabricated evidence, swearing that he himself had caught her at the shop, worshipping the Odd God. In the end, it had been her husband’s false testimony that provided the ultimate proof of the heinous charge for which Lusielle was about to die.

Burning torch in hand, the magistrate stepped forward. Still in shock, Lusielle swallowed a gulp of bitter horror and steeled for the flames’ excruciating pain. She didn’t want to die like a shrieking coward. But nothing could have prepared her for what happened next.

The magistrate offered the torch to Aponte.

“The king upholds a husband’s authority over his wife in the kingdom,” the magistrate shouted for the crowd to hear. “There can be no protests, no doubt of the wisdom of royal justice if a husband does as he’s entitled to do by his marital rights.”

Aponte could have forgone her execution. Considering the magistrate’s proclamation, he could have chosen a different punishment for her. Instead, he accepted the torch and, without hesitation, put the flame to the tinder and blew over the kindling to start the fire.

“Go now,” he said, grinning like a hog about to gorge. “Go find your dark lord.”

Lusielle glared at the poor excuse for a man who had ruined her life many times over. She had known from the beginning that he was fatally flawed, just as he had known on the day he claimed her that she couldn’t pledge him any affection.

But Aponte had never wanted her affection. He had wanted her servitude, and in that sense she proved to be the reluctant but dutiful servant he craved.

Over the years he had taught her hatred.

His gratification came from beating and humiliating her. His crass and vulgar tastes turned his bed into a nightmare. She felt so ashamed of the things he made her do. Still, even if she loathed him—and not just him, but the slave she had become under his rule—she had tried to make the best of it.

She had served him diligently, tending to his businesses, reorganizing his stores, rearranging his trading routes and increasing his profits. His table had always been ready. His meals had been hot and flavorsome. His sheets had been crisp and his bed had been coal-warmed every night. Perhaps due to all of this, he had seemed genuinely pleased with their marital arrangement.

Why, then, had he surrendered her so easily to the magistrate’s brute?

Aponte had to have some purpose for this betrayal. He was, above all, a practical man. He would not surrender all the advantages that Lusielle brought to him—money, standing, common sense, business acumen—without the benefit of an even greater windfall.

Lusielle couldn’t understand how, but she was sure that the bastard was going to profit handsomely from her death.

The scent of pine turned acrid and hot. Cones crackled and popped. The fire hissed a sinister murmur, a sure promise of pain. She didn’t watch the little sparks grow into flames at her feet. Instead, her eyes returned to the back of the crowd, seeking the stranger’s stare. She found him even as a puff of white smoke clouded her sight and the fire’s rising heat distorted his scarred face’s fixed expression.

The nearing flames thawed the pervasive cold chilling her bones. Flying sparks pecked at her skin. Her toes curled. Her feet flinched. Pain teased her ankles in alarming, nipping jolts. Dear gods. They were really going to burn her alive!

Lusielle shut her eyes. When she looked again, the stranger was gone from the crowd. She couldn’t blame him. She would have never chosen to watch the flame’s devouring dance.

A commotion ensued somewhere beyond the pyre. People were screaming, but she couldn’t see through the flames and smoke. She flinched when a lick of fire ignited her shift’s hem. A vile stink filled her lungs. Her body shivered in shock. She coughed, then hacked. Fear’s fiery fingers began to torment her legs.

“Come and find me,” she called to the God of fire.
      And he did.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit

Curse Giver Tour Giveaway Details

Subscribe to Dora Machado's blog and/or newsletter and enter for a chance to win:

1) One of three autographed books of Dora Machado's Stonewiser Series.
2) One of ten special edition bracelets commemorating The Curse Giver's EBook release. 

This handcrafted, customized, limited-edition, 1/4 inch aluminum bracelet from Silver Statements is hammered and stamped with The Curse Giver's signature message—Knowledge, Reason and Awareness, and flanked by the stylized outline of butterfly wings. Inside, the bracelet is stamped with the word Strength. Aluminum is a great metal for jewelry. It won't turn your skin green, doesn't oxidize or tarnish, and its water safe. Plus it's so lightweight that you might even forget you're wearing it. 

For a chance at one of The Curse Giver's limited edition bracelets subscribe now at: 

Yes, you double your chances when you subscribe to both the blog and the newsletter!

Giveaway Terms and Condition:
New subscribers to the blog and/or newsletter will automatically qualify to participate. Names will be selected at random from the list of new subscribers on November 15, 2013. Subscribers will be notified via e-mail. Winners will be asked to provide a mailing address for delivery.

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