From the sting of my curse she can never be free Impossible
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Unless she unravels my riddlings three
She will be a true love of mine
—The Elfin Knight's curse
is a 2008 novel by Nancy Werlin.
Lucy Scarborough is seventeen years old when she learns that the women in her family have been under a curse for hundreds of years - by their eighteenth birthday, they will have a baby, and then promptly go mad. Unless, that is, they can solve three tasks described in the ballad Scarborough Fair
. Lucy's ancestors have all failed at this task, but she is the first who isn't alone as she tries it. With her loving foster parents and childhood friend Zach, Lucy is in a race against time as she struggles to complete the seemingly impossible
A second book, Extraordinary
, which was released in 2011, takes place in the same world, but features different characters. It focuses on a girl named Phoebe, who learns that her friend Mallory, and Mallory's brother Ryland, are actually from the faerie realm, and that they are here to collect on an age-old debt.
The third book, Unthinkable
, was released in 2013. Fenella was the first Scarborough girl to fall under the curse. She rejoiced when it was broken - only to find that she was still trapped and very much alive in the faerie realm. After hundreds of years in captivity, she wants nothing more than the release of death, but she finds that she is unable to die. She makes a deal with the faerie queen to have a chance to break her life curse: she must perform three acts of destruction. What she doesn't expect, however, is that the three acts must be against her own family. There will be dire consequences for all of the Scarborough girls if she fails - but how can she choose to hurt them?
These novels provide examples of:
- All There in the Manual: The official site has a list of all of Lucy's ancestors and their history, all the way from Fenella.
- Babies Make Everything Better: In the end, Lucy breaks the curse and is free to live her life with her new child, who she names Dawn to represent the new beginning.
- Baleful Polymorph: Ryland is transformed from a manticore to a housecat. He gets used to it, though.
- Chekhov's Gun: Walker's truck in the third book. Originally, Fenella just is very interested in machines and wants to learn to ride it, as well as spend some alone time with Walker. She later uses it to try and kill the dog, Pierre, to solve the second task - and accidentally crashes it into Leo, which does complete the second task.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Completing "impossible" tasks definitely qualifies as earning the happy ending.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Pierre can smell that Ryland is faerie, rather than a normal cat.
- He also hides when Padraig visits the house on Lucy's prom night.
- The Fair Folk: There is an entire fae realm that humans are unaware of. The Scarborough curse was created by one of its citizens.
- Freudian Excuse: Padraig is likely half-human, and as an egg was abandoned in a swamp by his mother, who never claimed him as her own and did nothing but mock him as he grew up, along with the other faeries, who called him "The Mud Creature". He initially just wanted companionship.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Lucy refuses to abort her baby.
- Given that this is the case with countless generations before Lucy, it's implied that this trope is a part of the curse to ensure it continues on.
- Good Parents: Soledad and Leo.
- Impossible Task: Lucy gets the ones from the song Scarborough Fair. Fenella gets three of her own.
- One-Word Title: Each of three books, Impossible, Extraordinary, and Unthinkable
- Pyromaniac: As Fenella becomes interested in technology, she decides to try and solve the first task, destroying safety, by lighting the house on fire. She's later accused of being a pyromaniac for this.
- Rape as Drama: If the Scarborough women do not become pregnant on their own terms at the age of 17, this happens to them - Lucy included.
- Rule of Three: Lucy and Fenella each receive three tasks. Fenella also has to tell the faerie queen three times that she accepts the challenge before she can be given the tasks.
- Screw Destiny: Lucy does not intend to go mad like all her ancestors before her.
- Sibling Rivalry: The faerie queen Kethalia and her older brother Ryland.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Ryland, by the end of Unthinkable.
- Teen Pregnancy: All the Scarborough girls, at 17.
- Totally Radical: 400-year-old Fenella uses "Too much information!", a phrase Lucy had taught her, at one point.
- Victorious Childhood Friend: Zach.
- Wham Line: "It turns out the two curses are entangled."
- Your Days Are Numbered: Lucy has 9 months - until the birth of her daughter - to break her curse. Fenella is given three months for her life-curse.