The Cursed Heart

The Cursed Heart

by Derin_Edala

Kayden was six months old when the doctor found the curse in his heart. From then on, his life was a struggle to keep it locked away and dormant and above all secret, dreading the day that it would finally break free and wreak havoc. Now he’s fourteen, and that day has come.

Things look bad, but there’s hope — the world’s most prestigious magical school is willing to take him in, keep him safe, and pay his legal fees to avoid bankrupting his family. Most importantly, they can teach him to control his curse, to avoid ever hurting anyone else. It sounds far too good to be true, but what other option does he have?

Kayden quickly finds himself embroiled in a large political game he doesn’t understand. But he’d better learn fast. Because the secrets of his new school run deeper than he ever expected, and his actions have far more dangerous consequences than he could ever have known.

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Want to read ahead? Chapters are posted in advance on the Curse Words website.

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Derin_Edala

Derin_Edala

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
1.01: Trees Are Stupid ago
1.02: A Stranger in the Kitchen ago
1.03: Getting Into a Windowless Black Van ago
1.04: Registration ago
1.05: Maths and Spelunking ago
1.06: What To Do If You Get Lost ago
1.07: Sensible Decisions ago
1.08: Deathledge Confessions ago
1.09: Medical Attention ago
1.10: The Speedbump Problem ago
1.11: Consequences for Inappropriate Behaviour ago
1.12: Shopping ago
1.13: Cursed Magic ago
1.14: Political Terminology ago
1.15: The Truth About Matt ago
1.16: The Price of Magic ago
1.17: How not to avoid parties ago
1.18: Primary School Algebra ago
1.19: Shopping II: the Return of Shopping ago
1.20: Solar Navigation ago
1.21: The Cowards of Omelas ago
1.22: Family Ties ago
1.23: Exceptionally Fun at Parties ago
1.24: Family Fights ago
1.25: Secrets Between Friends ago
1.26: Male Bonding ago
1.27: Familiar Circumstances ago
1.28: There Are No Jokes In this Chapter ago
1.29: Picking Up ago
1.30: Discourse ago
1.31: The Pit ago
1.32: Recovery ago
1.33: Correspondence ago
1.34: Acanthos and Madja ago
1.35: Experimentation ago
1.36: Water, wine, loaves and fishes ago
1.37: Fiore and Ice ago
1.38: Staff Meetings ago
1.39: When Shall We Three Meet Again ago
1.40: The Palace ago
1.41: The Tower ago
1.42: Ultimatum ago
1.43: Diplomacy ago
1.44: A Complicated Array Of Interlocking Systems ago
1.45: Options For Non-Player Characters ago
1.46: The Least Dangerous Option ago
1.47: The Price of Purity ago
1.48: Always Read the Terms and Conditions ago
1.49: Staff Shortage ago
1.50: Releasing Pressure ago
1.51: Unguarded ago
1.52: How To Play Chess ago
1.53: Befriending the Wind ago
1.54: Mind Under Matter ago
1.55: The Story As I Knew It ago
1.56: Bias ago
1.57: Comfort Zone ago
1.58: A Verdant Forest ago
1.59: The Secret ago
1.60: What Is Real ago
1.61: The Price of Suspicion ago
1.62: Negotiation ago
1.63: Real Magic ago
1.64: Ascension ago
1.65: Reasonable Caution ago
1.66: The Price of Magic ago
1.67: Plans and Surprises ago
1.68: Role Reversal ago
1.69: Preparations ago
1.70: The Party ago
1.71: The Truth ago
1.72: Aftermath ago
1.73: Reunion ago
1.74: The Trial ago
1.75: The Trial II, Even More Trial ago
1.76: Resolution ago
1.77: Fallout ago
1.78: Return to Refujeyo ago
1.79: The Initiation ago
1.80: Choose Your Destiny ago
1.81: Beyond the Vortex ago
1.82: Book 1 Epilogue ago
2.01: Preparations ago
2.02: Simple Magic ago
2.03: Spell Literacy ago
2.04: Twilight Hours ago
2.05: False Assumptions ago
2.06: Politics Are Stupid ago
2.07: Pit Comp ago
2.08: The Coven ago
2.09: Social Studies ago
2.10: The Lepidopteran ago
2.11: Debt and Balance ago
2.12: Loose Ends ago
2.13: Duty of Care ago
2.14: Long Games ago
2.15: Rite of Passage ago
2.16: Party Planning ago
2.17: Distraction ago
2.18: Poison Control ago
2.19: Looking for a Gift ago
2.20: Effigy ago
2.21: Friendly Conversation ago
2.22: Secrets, Spells and Sigils ago
2.23: Walking the Path ago
2.24: Into the Labyrinth ago
2.25: The Garden of the Dead ago
2.26: Drowning in Responsibility ago
2.27: Dangerous Information ago
2.28: The Castle ago
2.29: Contract ago
2.30: The Centre ago
2.31: Trust ago
2.32: Consequence ago
2.33: Healing ago
3.01: Home ago
3.02: Catching Up ago
3.03: Return ago
3.04: The Bearer of Destiny ago
3.05: Blood Bonds ago
3.06: Information Control ago
3.07: The Written History ago
3.08: Limitations ago
3.09: Machine Learning ago
3.10: The Princess ago
3.11: Duniyasar ago
3.12: Destined Advice ago
3.13: Blood and Ichor ago

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Reviews
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DrBuller
Overall

The title says it all. When I was reading this story, there was no doubt about the age of the characters. I could read from the tone and words said that the main character was relatively young. 

What's so impressive about this? Well, the ability to write a realistic teenager on RR is currently 1 to however-many-stories-I've-read-on-this-platform. This is the first time I have read anything which doesn't overinflate the IQ in a vain attempt to make the author sound smart. The characters in the story just sound like... actual teens. Stupid, smart, and a bit shallow at times but teenagers nonetheless.

When I get the time, I will be revisiting this story, so it can get the attention that I feel it deserves. 10/10 from here.

Mister J.
Overall

Well, not enough for a real review.

But i gotta say.

 

This is totally up my alley.

 

It's fun.

It's hearthy.

Its crazy.

 

And i only read chapter 1 xD.


Wll update around chapter 20 or so tommorow.

Then probably an advanced review.

 

Hopefully it sticks to that nice feeling. The story just flows naturally and i really really like the smack talk of the MC xD.

 

Hopefully he doesn't become an overpowered isekai guy soonish. He's just right.

Borchard
Overall

A good first chapter but feels a bit rushed

Reviewed at: 1: Trees Are Stupid

I think this is a good first chapter but feels rushed. There are several things we are introduced to: the male protagonist, Melissa, Chelsea, the existence of Curses and magic co-existing in with non-magical society; the character under house arrest for an instant that is talked about but not shown. All these things are information overload and I think the author could slow the narrative down and introduce each of these elements at a more digestable pace. Overall though the writing is good and it is an easy read. I think the most interesting part is how someone can have a curse as a ticking time bomb, I wonder how that will play out. 

VMJaskiernia
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Wow. Just wow. This is not the usual story that you find on Royal Road, but it really should be. It's great, and I only found it because of a swap. And now it's going on my favorites and I'll be reading it and waiting for updates.

Overall if you like adventures, young adult fiction, interesting worlds, great characters, urban fantasy, magical schools-- go read this.

Style: First person point of view with our main character, Kayden. Some of the chapters are a different font- probably a copy/paste issue, but don't let it bother you.

Grammar: Saw no issues, well written. Publishable quality and when this author does publish the story,I'll be buying a copy :)

Story and Characters: This is where the story shines. Both the story and the charcters are great and a delight. Characters are realistic, well written, each have their own distinct feel. I love our main character and how she thinks and acts. The very first thing she does in the book is break out to go see friends after an.. attack.

And the story and world is similarly perfect. We are seemlessly introduced to an urban fantasy world with curses and mages, and how that sort of thing changes society. This is not a 'masquerading' world where the spooky things are hidden- it's just part of life that these things exist.

Prysmcat
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Original and beautifully-written

Reviewed at: 66: The Price of Magic

TL;DR version: I broke several of my usual rules when I started reading this one, and I'm very glad I did!

In general, I avoid reading anything with subadult protagonists or magical schools, because the former often bore me and I have never read one of the latter before that I liked (yes, including that one). I will generally start disconnecting and consider abandoning a story in which the protagonist is persistently unsure who to trust.

There are exceptions to most rules, and The Cursed Heart is a major one.

Style
The style is light and enjoyable, easy to read. Everything comes across very clearly, and it's easy to visualize events, but it doesn't bog down in excessive detail. The dialogue is smooth and believable and appropriate to the character speaking, always.

Story
In a word, fascinating. It builds beautifully, from the initial dilemma, through Kayden's first days at school, to the gradual immersion in an increasingly-complex and potentially dangerous situation. It's not a high-action, combat-every-chapter kind of story, but there is no shortage of tense moments that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Also no shortage of vivid emotion, which is what you'd expect from a group of adolescents under varying kinds of pressure, but it never tips over into angst.

The world-building is intriguing, and I love the contrast of what amounts to official vs unofficial magic. So much our own world, and yet all the little changes because of the reality of curses (including info and misinfo how to handle those) and of known, trained magic-users. If the magic in question were different, those cultural changes would have to be larger to be plausible, but with this system... the changes are believable.

Grammar
Flawless. I'm fussy about grammar, spelling, inaccurate use of expressions, wrong words that probably sounded right. I'll sometimes ignore it for a good reason, but I'm always aware of it. I'm not seeing any of that here. Nothing jolts the reader out of the flow.

Character
The MC and narrator Kayden is wonderful. He's in a difficult situation that would be hard for an adult to cope with, let alone a teenager. A 14-year-old in this situation is going to have some chaotic emotions, and they're there, but balanced perfectly against the action and interaction. Kayden is more the impulsive type, doing what seems like a good idea at the time, than the mopy type who overthinks everything. This inevitably gets him into trouble, especially when he starts trying to put together the available pieces of info about the events around him and comes up with inaccurate conclusions.

The other characters balance and contrast with Kayden's impulsiveness and are very much 3D individuals in their own right, not just mirrors of Kayden or figures present purely to keep the plot moving. They all have flaws, no saints here, but also, no over-the-top sinister mastermind villain twirling his mustache. Relationships build over time, naturally and organically, and family relationships are human and believable.

There are other things that I love about this, but if I keep ranting, I'm going to start getting into spoilers. Finding well-written and highly-original fantasy that has important LGBT+ elements handled with such a light touch is a treat. In this case, it was so good I couldn't bear to wait any longer for the next chapter and headed to the author's website so I could binge-read to the end of the first volume - and I'm going back for the rest.

Akata
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

You should sell this.

Reviewed at: 4: Registration

Overal Score 5/5

Note: I read up to chapter 4.

I have been on this site for about a month.

This is one out of three stories I have actually slowed down to read.

Most of them I skim through like a textbook until it catches my eye in prose, however for this one it isn't the case. For the first time in a long time I read a story with magic children, that wasn't Harry Potter and the Secret of Neville Long-Bottom's Trouser Zipper.

I suggest this to anyone who wants a good read to unwind with with a nice cup of tea.

Style Score 5/5

Most stories I read I have to go to about maybe the 5th chapter to see a developing style, but from this one it wasn't the case. It hit the ground running and I was able to clearly visualize the setting.

A+ work

Grammar 5/5

Not much to say here, other than relief I don't have to read errors that intterupt the reading expereince.

Story Score 5/5

This story does a good job at exposition without explaining things. Brava. I struggle with this and am quite jealous. By the end of the first chapter I already know the basics of the story. That there's a curse, a boy is being followed by the police, and that someone got hurt. It makes me want to know more, and its a good place to end a chapter to get people to keep reading.

Character Score 5/5

This part has a spoiler, so let me forewarn before you read this section.

Before I realized Kayden was transgender, I did not even realize it. It was hinted at in the story. Kayden was treated like the others. It wasn't said obviously. Why should it be? The other characters already know! 

The registration chapter is great exposition, and shows the small and big parts of the hard parts of a transgender person's life.

It is also a great literary vehicle. Kayden can truly be Kayden in this new school. Good Job.

Please read this story. You won't regret it :) 

FantasyBliss30
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Great Premise, Relatable Characters, Solid Writing

Reviewed at: Shopping

I think the premise of this story is great. I know it might feel like it has been done before, but since it is so easily relatable, it cannot be overdone. There are so many promising things you can do with Schools of Magic and this one is promising. I love the modern setting. The characters are sweet and easily relatable too. I like the simplicity of them, no unnecessary angst or complexity. Language is direct and lucid, always gets to the point. Vocabulary is consistent. BTW, was it ever explained what happened during the attack. I am curious to know. My only feedback would be to add some look descriptions of the characters when you are introducing them, without making it forced. I loved reading how Mr. Cooper looked. I hope you can do for more of the others too, lol. It is always fun to visualize characters. I also do not see any big bad introduced yet (I apologize if I am missing something). My other feedback would be to sort of tease the big bad earlier in the chapters or the bigger conflict in earlier chapters, so that the readers can have a stronger motivation to root for Kayden, a prologue may be? Thanks! I truly hope more people read this.

Hegelund
Overall

a super cohesive take on a magic school for mages in our world. and it very much literally is our world + mages, and they've always been here. and the way magic and mages work in this world, it all just fits together so perfectly with barely any changes to history. magic is not a secret, you can call a mage on the phone if a curse is causing trouble, it's just another part of society. they're not above the law, they just have good lawyers. 

and despite all that, it still somehow manages to make the magic feel so damn magical.

incarnadine
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

love it, would absolutely recommend

Reviewed at: 46: The Least Dangerous Option

I think that, in terms of both RoyalRoad's audience and the story itself, it's one of the best all-rounded stories I've seen on this site.

The characters are balanced, there's nothing too complicated, and, like the other reviewers said, it reminds of Harry Potter, style-wise. It's really solid, and you seem to have developed the story a lot, so a solid 4.5.

Style Score: 5/5

This fits my personal preferences, really, and I may be biased but the style is impeccable - I genuinely love how the curses are introduced 

while balancing the 'secrets' behind the Haven, as well as mage politics with Max, lessons with the teachers, and all in all Kayden's past as a whole. 

I love how you write your dialogue, if that makes sense - they sound like teenagers at a magic school, and that really shines through.

Story Score: 4.5/5

Like someone pointed out, it feels comforting to read this, like a weighted blanket. I, personally, prefer either fast-paced or slow-paced stories, but personal preferences aside your development, setting, and plot as a whole is realistic, and it makes me feel warm inside.

The introduction of the mysteries of the curse is produced later than the story than must novels, but I do like it in this case.

Character Score: 4.5/5

Kylie and Kayden aren't instantly best friends, Kayden doesn't instantly discard his his friends when he gets to magic school, and, as I've mentioned, the dialogue is well written, and as is Kayden's character.

He isn't perfect, he has arguments with his friends and flaws, but they're never too emphasized upon or too skipped over, if that makes sense. Descriptions are also short, to-the-point, but still adds the story.

It's one of those well-balanced stories that deserve more hype. WIll definitely follow, keep it up!

Mark Arrows
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

A more grounded and adult Harry Potter

Reviewed at: 8: Deathledge Confessions

In a world where uncontrolled magic can cause... issues with people, our main protagonist Kayden has been living well off. Until things inevitably go wrong and someone's hurt. He gets tossed out of his cozy home into a mysterious school that's specifically set up to handle incidents like this - in addition to training regular non-cursed magic. 

With two 'companions' of happenstance, Kayden needs to stick it out for six months before being allowed back home. Assuming everything goes according to plan. Assuming. 

But Kayden's a troublemaker that sticks his nose into anything mysterious and everything about this school certainly fits that bill.

 

Style: Add or remove a star depending on if you like the MC's sense of humor. Some people like that, others will find it annoying. Too subjective of a thing! 

Characters: Descriptions are excellent, fluid enough that you don't notice you're reading a description - which IMO is the best possible compliment you could give a writer. Author uses some clever and unique ways to describe people. Like this little gem: "He was tall, thin, and gave the distinct impression of someone who, when he was old enough to grow a proper beard, would immediately shape it into a goatee."

The side characters are filled with flaws, vulnerabilities and quirks, and don't all immediately get together and sing kumbayas. Which is a GOOD THING. Mary sue characters are boring to read. And these characters are anything but, all completely different from one another right down to how they speak. 

Story: It's a slow burn that won't hook immediately. The real intrigue starts right at the end of chapter 5, and things get exponentially more interesting after. Everything up to that point is setup, and there's no real tension till then. 

The world is well polished, right down to lawyers handling issues and good points on how culture would view magic and especially uncontrollable magic.  A lot of the questions you might have are typically those you know the author is holding in reserve to explain in more detail as a whammy later on - like where the curse marks came from, how they end up on widely random people, or other deep lore like that. 

Grammar: I'm generally blind to grammar so this isn't really something I could rate accurately. I never saw any glaring issues and everything read just fine to me!

Overall:  If you enjoy the idea of an urban fantasy set in a magical academy, this will scratch that itch and then some. Like a more adult version of Harry Potter. There isn't an overarching goal other than hang tight for six months and then get out of the school back to normality as of chapter 7, so come into the story more for atmosphere then expecting some save-the-world type story and it should be fine.