Curse Breaker by Simon Tudhope

Curse Breaker – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Adventure, interactive, mystery, compelling, absorbing.
Children’s book title: Curse Breaker.
Children’s author: Simon Tudhope.
Children’s illustrator: Tom Knight.
Genre: Gamebook.
Published by: Usborne.
ISBN: 9781801314305
Recommended for children aged: 10+
First published: Paperback September 2022.
This children’s book is ideal for: KS2 & KS3 gaming fans.

Curse Breaker by Simon Tudhope

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Our review:

Seagrave is a prison guard in the city of Mirewick, who finds himself on the wrong side of the bars. He has been imprisoned for just hearing a single whispered word – “Skerramore” – from an unknown woman as she was locked up. As fellow prisoners speak of a coming invasion and deadly sleepwalkers roaming the streets at night, Seagrave is despondently awaiting his execution at the hands of the power-hungry Mayor Eldritch and the mysterious Order who rule the city. Suddenly there’s a noise outside Segrave’s cell and the door creaks open – he’s free.

After that, the entire story is up to the reader.

If you’d like to go right, turn to 305
If you’d like to go left, turn to 244.

In the tradition of the classic ‘Choose your own adventure‘ books, at key points in the narrative the reader is faced with a choice and instructed to turn to a numbered entry to continue the story based on their decision. The text is broken up into almost 400 such entries, some of just a few lines and others a couple of pages.

Curse Breaker by Simon Tudhope spread 1

The story is told in the second person, immersing the reader in the heart of the action as you choose which way to go, who to talk to and whether to fight or walk away from confrontation. Depending on your choices the plot may include friends and foes, dragons and curses, talking paintings and erratic flying machines. There are lots of ways in which you can die – and therefore go back to the beginning (or just the last choice) to try again. There are also several possible happy endings and therefore no single correct path through the book.

The various storylines do not necessarily go in order and the reader is therefore continually flicking back and forth throughout the book as they navigate their own way through the text. This can be a little jarring at first for readers who are used to a more linear reading experience but it adds to the playfulness of the text.

Whereas the traditional Choose your own adventure books would just have text-based decisions, Curse Breaker adds additional interactive elements. At various points in the story, the reader is asked to roll a pair of dice, with the score determining their next move or the outcome of a fight.

Curse Breaker by Simon Tudhope spread 2

There are also picture clues to solve and ability points to monitor – for athleticism, sixth sense, endurance and skill – which can increase or decrease depending on your choices.

A log sheet is provided at the front of the book to enable tracking, and there’s a free downloadable and printable version of the log sheet for children who want to share the book at home or for use in schools and libraries. All of this makes the book more of a game than a story and likely of particular appeal to fans of Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games.

Roll one dice and add your ATHLETICISM level.
If your total is 8 or higher, turn to 355.
If it’s 7 or lower, turn to 132.

Curse Breaker is a fast-paced and involving read. The interactive elements make it suitable for reading in pairs and it is likely to be of particular interest to gaming fans who will appreciate the play elements of the book. The multiple possible storylines make it suitable for repeated readings as you can make different choices each time to find yourself on an entirely different adventure.

Many thanks to Usborne for the review copy. Curse Breaker by Simon Tudhope is featured in our October 2022 book club picks.

If you like Curse Breaker by Simon Tudhope you might also like: our reviews of No Place for Monsters by Kory Merritt, Minecraft Official Workbooks, Absolutely Everything by Christopher Lloyd, Rita Wong and the Jade Mask – by Mark Jones, and Robin Hood – Piracy, Paintballs and Zebras by Robert Muchamore.

Browse our list of Year 6 books.

About Melanie Dillon

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Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon