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3 Ways To Fight your Demons with 'Curse of the Gods' by R.L. McIntyre


I love stories of magic, dragons and epic battles. Always have. But recently, I've also been really swept away by fantasy stories about gods and monsters.

Maybe there's something in the way we live now that makes me feel like I need to rail against the status quo and fight back against things and people that would try and control me.

Or maybe I'm just naturally rebellious, who knows?


Either way, I sometimes need inspiration for fighting the metaphorical gods and demons that interfere with my life. So I turn to books. This February, I turned to Curse of the Gods by R.L. McIntyre and folks, it did not disappoint!


Set to the historical background of the struggle between the Celts and the Romans, and based on the myth of a Celtic hero chosen by the gods, this is the story of Seanait, a warrior approaching her seventeenth birthday who has been chosen by the gods to fulfill a quest that will likely take her life. Blessed (or cursed) with terrible power, she is preparing to face her destiny.



It's also the story of Cillian, a runaway fae prince hiding from his brutal family and the violent trials he is expected to take part in, competing for his father's crown.


These two characters meet in unlikely circumstances, developing a dangerous bond that throws into question everything they've been raised to believe.

Do they fight against their destiny to protect their bond? Or will the forces that control them force them apart?

It's a story of love, defiance and courage, which I loved.


So here are three ways I learned to fight your overbearing gods or demons, from Curse of the Gods. Please keep in mind that this post does contain a few mini spoilers. I don't think it'll ruin the book for you, but be aware!


 

1. Fight with Defiance


The gods in R.L. McIntyre's world are pretty demanding little so-and-so's. Full of otherworldly power, they manipulate mortals for their own gain.

They're always squabbling, having tantrums and generally making demands of the mortals in their charge.

So it's understandable that Seanait would find them annoying. This was the first thing I liked about her, how she rails against her destiny. She's been preparing for it her whole life and yet, she recognises that she's being used, and that the gods don't care about her. Frustrated by their constant interference and their relentless presence in her mind, she finds it hard to control her anger. Which is why it was so brilliant when Seanait turned away from her god-given destiny, fighting alongside the Caledonians when the Romans invaded. She defies the gods again and again throughout the story and it's brilliant.



I love that she's gutsy enough to stand up to these immortal, super-powerful beings and that, in doing so, she is ultimately able to gain their respect.

I didn't feel, throughout the story, that she was defying them in order to get them to respect her. Rather, she followed what she believed to be right at the time. She stuck to her principles. And I loved her for it.


Cillian's character is defiant, too, though for different reasons. He's fighting against family burden and expectation (something I think a lot of us can relate to!) and I loved the conflict within him. He doesn't want to be a monstrous character, but he is expected to be and he's afraid he won't be able to escape this expectation.

Still, he defies what is expected of him over and over again, following his heart, facing his demons.

He might not be defying gods, like Seanait is, but his family have some pretty powerful magic and Cillian clearly has a lot of emotional trauma to overcome, too.


Cillian's and Seanait's defiant attitudes to their respective destinies was really inspiring, and definitely something I'll be using when facing my own demons!


2. Fight with Love


Yeah, alright, it's a bit of a cliche. Love conquers all, and all that, but we still go back to those stories, right?

Because we like to believe that love can outlast violence, outlast fear, outlast suffering.

I've no idea whether that's true, but maybe if we write enough stories about it, and change enough hearts, we can make it true.



Neither Cillian, nor Seanait have had much time for love in their lives so far. Seanait was rejected by her own family, and is expected to enter into a marriage she doesn't want. Cillian's family are, to put it lightly, bloodthirsty and maniacal. His brother and his father, I would argue, violently psychopathic and delight in Cillian's suffering.

Neither of these characters has had much love in their lives. They haven't been shown how to love, or been given love. Yet, when it's offered to them, they grab it with both hands.

I have to admit, I sometimes find romantic sub-plots (or main plots) in YA fantasy fiction a bit cringy. It can really make or break a story and there are lots of stories I've read where I reckon I'd have loved the book if ONLY it wasn't for the fact the teen heroes got all hormonal.


But I think McIntyre handled the romance element of this story really well. Seanait doesn't become the submissive, demure heroine in the shadow of Cillian's love. In fact, she gets really cross with him quite often about him making decisions on her behalf.

I love that she holds him to account, that she's a warrior through and through, and that she's furious with him when he goes against her wishes. Despite all this, though, she still loves.

And this is what's great, because love and anger can exist together. So can love and hate. Love and frustration. Love and fear. Some love is healthy, some is toxic. I really liked that Seanait and Cillian both fought against their destinies with love. And the love in this story isn't just romantic love, either. Sibling relationships play a big part. So does friendship, and those are both valid forms of love, too.



3. Fight with Courage


Maybe this goes without saying. But I'm still gonna say it, because who doesn't need inspiration to feel brave?

Bravery is hard.

But I don't think either Seanait or Cillian show their bravery through fighting. I think their bravery comes from other things. Seanait is brave when she allows herself to be vulnerable with Cillian. Cillian is brave when he learns that it's possible to build bonds with his family members, rather than just fighting them.


This was probably one of my favourite things about the book, that the characters' courage didn't come from violence or war. It came from exploring new feelings and knowing that this made them vulnerable. I feel that, for a young audience of today, that's a really powerful message.

 

I really loved this book. I loved the mythology behind it, the layered worlds of the Ether (where the gods live), the human realm and the faelands. I loved the deep conflict in the characters and how this played out. It was a really unusual fantasy setting and I felt that, for the story it was telling, it worked really well.

If you've got demons to slay (and let's face it, haven't we all?) you could do a lot worse than taking inspiration from Seanait and Cillian.

The book is available:

It's also available in paperback. You can check out R.L. McIntyre's site here.


Happy reading! Peace and Love,


 

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