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The Accursed Audiobook, by Joyce Carol Oates Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Joyce Carol Oates Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2013 ISBN: 9780062243676
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A major historical novel from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation)—an eerie, unforgettable story of possession, power, and loss in early-twentieth-century Princeton, a cultural crossroads of the powerful and the damned

Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth 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.

An utterly fresh work from Oates, The Accursed marks new territory for the masterful writer. Narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling supernatural elements to stunning effect.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A brilliant Gothic mystery that has the punch of historical fiction. Currents of race, class, and academic intrigue swirl under the surface, but it’s the demonic curse that propels the action...Oates casts a powerful spell. You’ll close The Accursed and want to start it all over again.”

    People (4 stars)

  • “Joyce Carol Oates is at her gothic best…an astonishing fever dream of a novel.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “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...Oates’ hypnotic prose has never been better displayed.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “This latest effort looks like a belated candidate for the Great Oates Novel…The Accursed is a big, mad, colorful romp, respectful of the literary traditions in which it participates, leavened with a piquant humor.”

    Financial Times

  • “For those who enjoy total immersion in this kind of historical fiction, The Accursed is good fun, as mesmerizing as a demon and as addictive as a patent cure.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A fascinating novel in which historical truth and imagination collide to create an unsettling vision of America as it entered the twentieth century.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • The Accursed blends history, horror, fantasy, and black comedy into a trippy literary brew. For fans of Oates’ gothic works, this is a heady draught indeed.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Regular readers of Oates will be familiar with the game…After [new readers make] their way through The Accursed, no one will find it easy to forget.”

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • The Accursed is a unique, vast, multilayered narrative, a genre-bending beast of a book, utterly startling from start to finish, compulsive and engaging, the writing crackling with energy and wit. This is an elaborately conceived work.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “Oates’ atmospheric prose beautifully captures the flavor of gothic fiction…In Oates’ hands, this supernatural tale becomes a meditation on the perils of parochial thinking. It demands we think—with monsters—about our failure to face the darkest truths about ourselves and the choices we’ve made.”


  • “[The Accursed] is, in addition to being a thrilling tale in the best gothic tradition, a lesson in master craftsmanship…The story sprawls, reaches, demands, tears, and shrieks in homage to the traditional gothic, yet with fresh, surprising twists and turns…Oates has given us a brilliantly crafted work .”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A lush, arch, and blistering fusion of historical fact, supernatural mystery, and devilish social commentary…Readers will be bewitched by a fantastically dramatic, supremely imaginative plot rife with ghosts, vampires, demons, and human folly. Oates brings her nightshade humor and extraordinary fluency in eroticism and violence, American history and literature (her magnetizing characters include Mark Twain, Jack London, and Upton Sinclair) to this piercing novel of the devastating toll of repression and prejudice, sexism and class warfare. A diabolically enthralling and subversive literary mash-up.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Historical fiction with a spooky Oatesian twist.”

    Library Journal

  • “Oates finishes up a big novel begun years before—and it’s a keeper…Carefully and densely plotted, chockablock with twists and turns and fleeting characters, her novel offers a satisfying modern rejoinder to the best of M. R. James—and perhaps even Henry James…It’s oddly entertaining, as a good supernatural yarn should be.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Grover Gardner narrates the story in crisp, practiced tones. He flawlessly weaves narrative with essential details that flesh out the facts or elucidate minutiae. Is there one story or many in this mixture of history and fiction? Gardner takes all the jarring asides in stride, using droll tones to portray the upper crust and their infatuations. Listeners are challenged to follow the complex plot, or rather plots, which take many hours to merge and reveal themselves.”


  • One of the New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of 2013
  • A 2013 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2013 New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction 2013
  • A Los Angeles Times bestseller

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About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is an award-winning author of fiction, nonfiction, short stories, plays, and novellas. She is the 2019 recipient of the $10,000 Jerusalem Prize, given to “international writers whose body of work assert the freedom of the individual in society.” She is also a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, among other major awards.

About the Narrator

Grover Gardner (a.k.a. Tom Parker) is an award-winning narrator with over a thousand titles to his credit. Named one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, he has won three prestigious Audie Awards, was chosen Narrator of the Year for 2005 by Publishers Weekly, and has earned more than thirty Earphones Awards.