Discussion and Reading Guide

Questions for Readers, Reading Groups, and Librarians.

  1. Kelli has stated that the novel Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett, is an inspiration for THE CURSE-MAKER. If you are familiar with Hammett’s work, what are the similarities? The differences?

  2. Kelli has also said that she wanted to write a hardboiled mystery that successfully features a married couple, as Chandler was trying to do with his last (incomplete) novel, later finished by Robert B. Parker (Poodle Springs). How does the relationship between Arcturus and Gwyna work with the story?

  3. What are the various curses in the book? Who is cursed—and by whom or what?

  4. Do you think the kind of curses described in the book—as a sort of superstitious policing agency—would work today? Do you think they may have worked in the ancient world?

  5. A sense of guilt plays a large role in the plot, and is suffered by nearly every major character. How does the guilt the characters feel propel the story forward?

  6. Do you think differently of Roman culture after reading THE CURSE-MAKER? In what ways?

  7. A debate in the book centers medical ethics. What did you think of the argument? Did you agree with Arcturus?

  8. Have you ever visited Bath? If so, how does the book evoke your experience? If not, did reading THE CURSE-MAKER make you want to see the actual Roman Bath, still extant?

  9. What are the identifiably “noir” elements of THE CURSE-MAKER?

  10. What do you think is next for Arcturus and his family? If you’ve read NOX DORMIENDA, did you miss Bilicho?

Right click to download a PDF of the discussion questions.