The Charmed: Fascinatus
by Alan Southall
AuthorHouse UK

"Emile gazed at her beauty which seemed enhanced tenfold by wearing the jewel. She looked charming."

At the beginning of the second century AD, Legatus Crassus was in command of the Roman legion in Deva, located in modern-day England. Eager to please his wife, he commissioned a unique charm from a local goldsmith, promising a large payday for the craftsman. But Crassus’s dark side, unbeknownst to most, came to the forefront when he swindled the goldsmith out of half of the fee, placing the artisan in dire straits. In his revenge, the goldsmith Afzal delivered the charm bracelet, but not before cursing it with a tiny inscription. Now, even two millennia later, anyone who finds this alluring piece of jewelry is destined to be obsessed and then consumed by it, cursed by the greed and heartless abuse of power that Crassus exhibited.

While these stories interconnect with those immediately before and after them and have the bracelet’s havoc as a constant theme, each chapter of this book basically serves as an independent short story about the trappings of greed. The scope of this book is impressive, particularly considering its relatively short length. For a tale to span from 105 to 2020 AD in just over a dozen chapters while still feeling cohesive and complete is a remarkable feat. The chapters themselves give off almost the same impression as watching a horror film: After the first few tragic incidents, the reader knows that misfortune is just around the corner, and the author’s task is to make each victim’s demise unique. This is absolutely accomplished as the last few chapters of the book raise the stakes tremendously while also tying up the few loose ends that set the story in motion. Readers who can embrace chaos and the darker side of existence and death should enjoy this tale of greed and curses throughout the ages.

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