The Accursed: A Novel
Joyce Carol Oates
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Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century: a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at its edges, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent and a powerful curse besets the families of the elite–their daughters begin disappearing. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.
When a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince, who might just be the devil, abducts a young bride on the verge of the altar, her brother sets out against all odds to find her. His path will cross those of Princeton's most formidable people, including Grover Cleveland, fresh out of his second term in the White House, soon-to-be commander in chief Woodrow Wilson, a complex individual obsessed to the point of madness with his need to retain power, the young idealist Upton Sinclair and his charismatic comrade Jack London, and the most famous writer of the era, Mark Twain–all of whom are plagued by "accursed" visions.
friend—gone. Henrietta sees Todd from one or another window and waves to him, but gets no response; if she calls to him, he pretends not to hear. When he isn’t wandering at Crosswicks he is likely to be in the Princeton Cemetery, in the area of the Slade family mausoleum. The cemetery groundskeeper sees Todd Slade there, knows who he is, and doesn’t approach him. There are those who drift about the old cemetery, that dates to pre-Revolutionary times, like living ghosts—the groundskeeper knows
a partner in the Slade family businesses, that were managed by professionals, and had always prospered. It is true, Copplestone had a penchant for the theater, as a younger man; he had even participated in amateur theatrics, in the Princeton Players, taking on such ambitious roles as Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bertram in All’s Well That Ends Well, and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance; less profitably, Copplestone had a penchant for gambling on racing horses, at which he lost a fair
into human nature to know that while intense hatred might reverse itself, and erupt as “love,” mere fondness can never. And Willy can never be a sister to Josiah as Annabel is—there is no competing, in Josiah’s affections, with Annabel. Not hearing a query put to her by the seamstress Wilhelmina continues to stare at herself in the mirror, as if astonished by her own singular ugliness; perhaps it would be better, kinder, for her to fade away, like Ophelia; to remove herself from the Hamlet of
come to stand, and then to kneel, beside his bride, in his U.S. Army dress uniform; women’s eyes are fixed upon the bride, and her bridal gown of creamy-white satin, with its stylish “monobosom,” high collar, yoke of ribbon inserts, feather stitching, and nine-inch-deep waist shirrings; the long skirt deceptively plain, with but a few horizontal tucks ending in a lacy train; the sleeves double-puffed at the upper arm, then slim to the wrist, in ribbon and feather stitching about which Mrs. Grover
Wilson would be along other lines. He added that he might want to speak with Jessie, too, since Jessie and Annabel had been close friends, and perhaps Annabel had confided in Jessie, or at least hinted of her situation . . . At this Mrs. Wilson became visibly upset, and said it was not possible—as Jessie, too, had suffered a nervous collapse, and couldn’t come downstairs; and, in any case, Josiah could be sure that she herself had closely questioned her daughter on the subject of the