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The Curse

A Shocking True Story of Superstition, Human Sacrifice and Cannibalism (True Crime)
Narrated by: Steve White
Length: 3 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, True Crime

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Publisher's Summary

In 1894, Leonarda Cianciulla was born into an abusive household. As a young girl, she attempted suicide twice to rid herself of the misery. After decades of abuse, Leonarda sought stability and married Raffaele Pansardi. Her mother did not approve and conveyed her anger in the strongest possible sense. She cursed the marriage. 

Leonarda believed that her mother’s words had power and they haunted her for the rest of her life. Following the curse, Leonarda experienced fits and seizures, was imprisoned for fraud, lost her home to an earthquake, had three miscarriages and lost 10 children due to ill health in their youth. Her fears were exacerbated when she visited a Romani fortune teller who informed her, "In one hand I can see prison. In the other, a mental asylum."

In 1939, Leonarda’s eldest son, Giuseppe, informed her that he was going to join the Army. As one of only four remaining children, she needed to protect him at all costs. She decided that the only way to do that was through the most extreme means - human sacrifice. 

The Curse is a chilling account of one of the most brutal and bizarre true-crime stories in history. Ryan Green’s riveting narrative draws the listener into the real-live horror experienced by the victims and has all the elements of a classic thriller. 

Caution: This book contains descriptive accounts of abuse and violence. If you are especially sensitive to this material, it might be advisable not to listen.

©2019 Ryan Green (P)2019 Ryan Green

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Profile Image for Milica
  • Milica
  • 19-01-2020

Riveting story of a disturbed & superstitious lady

This is the story of an abused and superstitious woman who does everything she can to protect her surviving children. She would do anything to save them, even murder.
 
Had anyone else written the story, it would be documentary like and likely boring. Ryan Green is however the King of the true crime genre. He does meticulous research and adds so much flavour to the stories that I feel his stories should become motion pictures. He combines facts with his own analysis and assumptions to create a masterpiece. I highly recommend this story, along with all the others!
 
Steve is a perfect fit to narrate Ryan’s books. He adds emotion and suspense in his performance making the stories enjoyable and entertaining.
 
Note: This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this objective review voluntarily.

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  • timj26
  • 16-01-2020

Secret ingredient

Love Ryan’s style of informative writing especially when I’m not familiar with the subject matter
Interesting story of one woman’s mental illness and belief in curses during wwII
Excellent narration from Steve as always
Highly recommend any of Ryan greens audiobooks
I received a free review audiobook and voluntarily left this review

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dave
  • 06-02-2020

Ryan Green Has Spoiled Me, But Never Let Me Down

I listen to every Ryan Green True Crime audio book as soon as I hear about its release, sometimes using my audible credits and sometimes -- as was the case with The Curse -- being offered a copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. He is my favorite True Crime writer, and his writing style, scarily in-depth research and choice of narrators is always exceptional. He always finds lesser-known but deeply fascinating and horrific subjects to write about, and he writes about them using a killer's-eye-view perspective that nobody does better. The Curse hits all of those benchmarks, but unlike almost all of his other books it didn't seem at first to scream out of the gate at his usual breakneck speed. In telling the strange and brutal story of Leonarda Cianciulla's quite literally cursed life, the author may have had to set the stage in a bit more detail than some other stories he's told. I feel like he justifiably had to show the more prosaic, happy parts of Leonarda's life so that the many startling and mystifying ways that she reacted to having that life crash down around her would have the appropriate impact. I never felt a desire to put the book down --- that has never happened to me once with any of his books, and his way of involving and propelling the reader is one of Green's strongest attributes --- but I did start wondering at one point if maybe he had finally run out of deeply fascinating and horrific subjects,

Man was I ever wrong. The Curse starts with an abusive mother cursing Leonarda's marriage, which was the only way the poor girl could see to escape from the torture and cruelty. She gets away and almost has a happy life, Then, in distressingly certain succession, Leonarda literally loses 13 children (3 miscarriages and 10 living children who died at an early age), her house to an earthquake, and her freedom after a conviction for fraud. Inevitably, convinced that all of these dreadful things were happening to her because of her mother's curse, Leonarda loses her mind. And that's when the story takes off like a shot, and the irresistible subtitle of this book comes into play. Move over Stephen King.

Steve White's narration is impeccable, as it is in every one of Ryan Green's books that he narrates. Listening to Green's many other True Crime books has probably spoiled me, preparing me from the opening paragraph for a fast-paced, shocking and entertaining audio ride, When all was said and done, he delivers all that and more in The Curse.

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  • txdoc
  • 23-02-2020

Another riveting exposé…

In the true crime genre, no one can take a subject and write a personalized memoir of that killer the way Ryan Green can. His research is meticulous and his psychological insights into the inner workings of the criminal mind border on unsettling. In The Curse we are treated to a highly detailed and totally absorbing depiction of the life of the infamous Italian serial killer Leonarda Ciancuilli, often referred to as the “Soap-Maker of Correggio”. She is most famous for murdering three women between 1939 and 1940 and using their blood to bake teacakes which she served to her unsuspecting family and friends. She would also use their bodies to make soap. Her actions were the result of numerous factors including horrendous abuse she endured as a child, injuries which likely caused permanent brain damage, and a belief in superstitions which were not all that uncommon in her time. Factual details, keen psychological analysis, and reasonable speculation are adroitly combined to generate this riveting and profoundly sad composite of one life filled with disappointment, tragedy, and a cornucopia of misfortune. Her actions were, of course, inexcusable but this account of her life sheds light on how a person could be driven so very far off the rails of reason and sanity. Buy it, borrow it, read it or listen to it – it is well worth an evening of your time. The narrator, Steve White, is, as always, superb in his presentation of this macabre and captivating tale.

While I did purchase a copy of this book, I was given a copy of the audio version by the author and I am voluntarily offering this honest and unbiased review.

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  • Jeff & Sabrena
  • 03-02-2020

Fascinating and horrifying

I must admit that I've never heard of this case before. It's as fascinating as it is horrifying. As stated in the synopsis, Ryan Green's narrative is riveting. And Steve White's performance does it justice.

NOTE: I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • Danielle
  • 31-01-2020

Cannibal or curse cure?

I love Ryan's books. He has the knack of taking a true crime story and weaving it into an actual story not just a report of what crime was done. He does it in a way that let's you get behind the eye of the killer. This one is no different. He explains the history of this person to the point that you can somewhat understand their thinking and why they did what they did. This particular story is so over the top that you would think it's made up.

And I love Steve White's narration for these stories. Always spot on, and voice inflections that make what should be uncomfortable to hear sort of cozy. I know, that sounds weird, but it's true. He helps make it more palatable.

I received a free audiobook copy in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Nicole
  • 20-01-2020

What A Story!!!

As a true crime buff, I'm very surprised to have never heard of this serial killer before. Especially being a female serial killer (the rarest of killers) it surprises me at the lack of attention true crime writers have given this story.

This particular book is well-researched and well written. It's such a good story that I had a hard time pausing it to do other things like work.

The narration is perfect for this book! He did a great job bringing this chilling story to life without being OTT.

(I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.)

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  • Kayla Krantz
  • 19-01-2020

Different Kind of Killer

Leonarda Cianciulla was a different kind of killer. She lived her life terrified by superstitions. That fear eventually drove her to murder.

Like most serial killers, Leonarda had an awful childhood. To me though, she wasn’t like other serial killers. She didn’t kill for joy, but rather to placate the belief that if she killed someone, she would be able to keep her children safe. It’s too bad her story occurred before mental illness aware was a thing because I think it would’ve been interesting to study her mind and see everything she had going on.

Narration by Steve White is perfect as always.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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  • BookLover
  • 18-01-2020

YIKES!

This book is like a horror movie! It’s unbelievable how messed up people can be. It started with a mother who hated her own child because she was conceived through rape. The cruelty and abuse that Leonarda Pansardi experienced as a child as well as her involvement in the occult and witchcraft, molded her into the monster she became.
If you like True Crime, you will like this book.

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  • Sena Schneider
  • 16-01-2020

A bizarre trip through megalomania

Leonarda's mother didn't approve of the husband she had chosen. After the wedding she cursed the marriage. Having believed in the supernatural all her life, she would find her mother's curse as a scapegoat for the seizures and many miscarriages that seemed to plague her. She sought a consultation from a from a fortune teller to see if she had for sure, she was told that she would outlive all of we children. After she had miscarriages, she blamed the curse. When her son Giuseppe was born and lived she thought she had beaten the curse. She had some successful pregnancies afterwards, but they were sickly children. When she lost two more of her children to illness, she dove into studies of the occult to take control of this curse. It was her obsession with controlling her own fate that drove her to murdering three women.

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  • Jay
  • 23-01-2020

A shocking book about a tale of tragedy

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

The concept of this book is an interesting one, as all true crimes tend to be. We follow Leonarda a young lady who marries a man her mother doesn't approve of.

She comes from a superstitious family, thus her mother `curses` the marriage. It sounds like the perfect start to a cheap horror flick, right? The thing that keeps anchoring you to this book is that it is based on a true story. we follow Leonarda as she slowly descends into what can only be described as psychosis. From that of the curse? or something self inflicted due to her beliefs in such things? Who could say.

It i's well written, well researched, but at times it does feel like there's not enough. The story is full of intrigue and detail. But some parts of the book read like a police report without heart and soul. It's a double edged sword, because it helps with the shock factor because of how authoritatively it is written. But this also means that the narrative lacks heart and compassion. This may be the preferred style for those that are in to true crime.

The narration is clear and precise. In an American general accent. It is well produced and nice and clearly mastered. It maps well to the story and it too is narrated in a fashion of someone telling facts rather than a story. Again, this may be due to the fact that this is a true crime story with no embellishment of the story with `Hollywood gloss`. That being said, I enjoyed this audiobook and was taken aback by the events that unfolded, it is thought provoking and sad. Leaving you hoping that those affected were able to move forwards with their lives.

All in all, if you like true crime novels this audiobook is definitely up your street.

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  • Pixar.Kitten
  • 18-01-2020

Fantastically Scary

Once again I loved this audio of a True Crime by Ryan Green. Though I can read books on my Kindle, (not books), I am Severely Visually Impaired (UK) /Legally Blind (USA). As a result audiobooks can do one of two things for me. Either simply tell me the story more easily than reading, or it can truly bring it to life. Steve White's narration truly brings it to real technicolor picture! Ryan's research is second to none, his ability to tell a tale of not just the protagonist, but also their family history is superb.

This particular book however, for me at least, is his scariest yet. Yes, I understand she was very afraid that she had been cursed. But, to then use the Occult the way she did, using human sacrifice, the methodology behind, not just the murders, but the disposal of the bodies, was ... disturbing to say the least. I guess as a society we are conditioned to the belief that women nurture, and protect. Are loving, warm. When they err in some really despicable way, it is somehow the more shocking to us. (Who among us wasn't more shocked by Rosemary West than by Fred?) Yet this women did things worse than a lot of male killers! Yet did it for the love of her son!

If you've never listened to a Ryan Green audible, what are you waiting for?