5.0 out of 5 stars!

 “Where do I even begin? The Curse of the Ninth was an enrapturing tale from start to finish. I was amazed at the author’s ability to switch seamlessly from the perspectives of a adult men, women, then show the world through the eyes of a child from birth to adulthood. Each character’s view added to the richness of the story.

The details of American history in the 1920s, 30s, and beyond captured the day to day struggles of ordinary families, and it only added to the drama of Charley’s twisted upbringing.

I must say I absolutely loved the tiny details Marlenee added like the behavior of beloved pets and how they shape a child.

The book was a bit slow as far as pacing, but the story was so rich and complex I am not sure how the author could’ve done it any other way. I found myself thinking about it continuously after it ended. Can you say book hangover?

It was a very well done piece and I already want to read through it again.” – A.D. Faylin – Author, The Dark Pilgrim 


“This is a period piece set mostly in the Great Depression. (For younger readers, that’s the 1930s). A moody and dark mystery drama about the turmoils of Dr. Wesley Marnier, an optometrist, and his youngest son, Charlie. At the opening, the death of Wesley (whom we get to know as Doc) gives rise to the strange passing over of his spirit into his son. A schizophrenic menage-a-trois. If you don’t like hints of reincarnation, this is not for you. Yet it is a compelling read.

An impulse from somewhere out of the fringes of the occult (Phowa, an ancient Chinese language, is mentioned) allows Wesley to transfer his consciousness into Charlie at birth. Very improbable, you might ask, but this makes for some interesting back-and-forth between living infant and departed father, not to mention the mother, Phoebe, a concert pianist and the main anchor character. Wesley had lived an anguished life with his drug and alcohol addict first wife, Stella. Phoebe was his last hope, via Charlie, who finally admits to himself that “she never knew a stranger.” Scattered all over the human landscape are interesting figures to flesh out the drama: Stella, Wesley’s partner Jack Warrington, stepfather George Gimble, Charlie’s older stepbrother Leland, and Charlie’s future naval psychologist Dr. Savage. Setting aside the odd cultist possession of little Charlie by his father as a gimmick, the tale is narrated predominantly from Charlie’s POV.

It is a compelling and tantalizing landscape. Charlie is mentally tortured, even from infant-hood. He remembers his birth, his first earliest experiences, his proxy view of his father, as if he was an adult. That is the affect of the father-and-son duality. Watching Charlie grow up is both painful and otherworldly. Not to mention the afterlife control, out of love, of Wesley, who’s always in Charlie’s head. Side by side with him is the equal pain of his mother, Phoebe. A lot of this is beautifully presented through musical interludes, with prodigies Leland, Phoebe and (partially) Charlie at their sounding-board of the piano.

Is Charlie really possessed by his father? How could it happen? The 1930s were full of seances with the dead – one such scene is used here. Perhaps Marlenee likes that ambiance. At one point, I found what I think of as my idea of what was really happening, as Savage tells Charlie: “…you’ve created this alternative personality you call Doc… it’s not a classic case, but I’ve diagnosed you as a schizophrenic.” If it’s a gimmick by Marlenee, it’s a good one and it works for me.

Love stories often take on these multiple dimensions, and Marlenee has the expressive power of prose to make this a tour de force. We constantly come across marvelously descriptive passages. For example, near the end, Charlie observes that “blackbirds are perched on the barbed wiring between wooden fences. They remind me of music notes on staves between brackets…” Later, Charlie’s father shouts inside his head, “Listen to the orchestra of the ocean…” to which Charlie hears “the crash of waves, like kettledrums smashing over my head.” Music is a high motif here, and it finally releases Charlie, even if it is in the oceanic symphony. There are many of these wonderful sentences, like emotional melodies scattered throughout the grand opera of Charlie’s life.

For me, a weak part of the novel’s structure is its chronology. I admit, it’s not a glaring one, but the story is told with a lot of jumps back and forth in time, from the 1910s to 1949 and beyond, etc. As a reader, I like things arranged on a linear timeline, to maintain all the developments in order, in a less confusing fashion. The main surrender to that by the author is having the very brief episodes with Charlie and Dr. Savage told in the present tense.

Celebrity seems to bring more pain than the ordinary life. The author gives us the hint that after the ninth major work (in this case, Beethoven’s), the tenth is likely to be a curse. While Mozart and Handel dispel that myth, the idea is a good meme here. The ‘music’ of a person’s life may fail miserably when the home environment becomes warped. Yet the ending, with a small dollop of syrupy sweetness, also comes like a cleansing of the readers mind, the lifting of the burden that reconciliation brings. Bravo, Ruthie Marlenee.” – Joe Boudreault, Author The Dolphin Code


 “Ruthie Marlenée’s Curse of the Ninth introduces its readers to a cast of alluringly imperfect characters facing issues of grief, greed, betrayal, and vengeance in the first half of the twentieth century. An embittered, alcoholic ex-wife, a pregnant, career-focused widow, a grifting business partner with ties to the mob and eyes on his partner’s wife—their complexities all pale in comparison to the young man who’s stuck in the middle of it all and haunted by the spirit of his murdered father. 

This book will speak to anyone who’s ever suffered a loss, been wronged by someone they trusted, been left by someone they loved, struggled to create their own identity, separate from that of their family’s, or had trouble letting go of the past.

Personally, I had trouble letting go once I reached the last page of the book. What a great read!” – Katherine Itacy, author Relentless: From National Champion to Physically Disabled Activist.


“I love this novel. CURSE OF THE NINTH is fresh, intriguing and poignant and will sweep you into a story that you will remember long after you finish the last page. ” — Lynn Hightower, author of THE PIPER.


“A gripping read with unexpected twists and turns. Marlenée weaves a rich, multi-generational tale with sweeping suspense that captivates the reader throughout. ‘Curse of the Ninth’ will leave you haunted and wanting more from the talented writer.”– Lori Rosene-Gambino, Award Winning Screenwriter

“‘Curse of the Ninth’ is a fascinating story. Full of suspense, I was glued to the pages until the very last word. Marlenée knows how to bring her characters to life.” –Daniela Piazzi, U.N. World Peace Recipient


The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

They’re here! Just sayin’.

Ruthie Marlenée


Growing up in the 60’s, every time I heard a plane fly over, I cowered. Had the Russians finally crossed into our skies? My paranoia soared. Was this the first time I’d heard some fake news.

The Russians are Coming! ” is a phrase from 1949 attributed to United States Secretary of Defense James Forrestal who added, “The Russians are Coming! They’re right around. I’ve seen Russian soldiers.” Forrestal allegedly uttered those words while suffering from mental illness, not long before “allegedly” falling out a 16thstory window of the Bethesda Naval hospital.

The nations nerves were just as mentally frazzled for over a decade.

And then in 1966, as the anti-communism crusade subsided in the early 1960s, the Hollywood blacklist was slowly discontinued and Norman Jewison put out the comedy “The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!” starring Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Alan Arkin and Brian Keith. But…

View original post 591 more words

Mexican Soil: My Agave Roots

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

Ah, the writer’s life. The morning after the launch of my new book Curse of the Ninth, it’s back to the real world of rejection. Perhaps, the world isn’t ready for my next book Agaves Blues. Is it the voice, the writing, the characters? Is it just not resonating with agents and the New York publishing world? Maybe it’s just not Mexicany enough.

Alas, there is some good news to report. In response to some controversy over American Dirt, in a Los Angeles Times article published yesterday, “According to the release, the publisher made commitments to “substantially increasing Latinx representation across Macmillan, including authors, titles, staff and its overall literary ecosystem” as well as “developing an action plan to address these objectives within 90 days.”

I’m dusting off (dirt, get it?) Agave Blues now. Macmillan, where can I send my manuscript?

Official Launch for Curse of the Ninth

Not to be eclipsed by American Dirt, today is the official launch day for Curse of the Ninth (a Los Angeles Dirt story).

In the music world, there is a superstition, Curse of the Ninth, whereby a composer who produces a ninth symphony has reached a decisive landmark – to embark on the tenth is a challenge to fate. 

EXCERPT: While I wasn’t a composer of music and had always discounted this concept of the curse, I wondered if somehow I’d struck a wrong chord with fate. Was it wrong to have wanted more? Was it wrong to attempt a tenth? Was our baby to be the tenth symphony of my life, and therefore a mistake—? No!” – Dr. Wesley “Doc” Marnier.

Will “American Dirt” Crumble into a “Million Little Pieces”?

What about Bolton’s Memoir – will it ever see the light of day? The fate of his book is in the hands of the White House. 

Photo by James Frid on

Whatever happens to these books, there certainly has been a lot of buzz surrounding their release.

What about the biggest PR myth of all? “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”  I wonder how much Author Jeanine Cummins or former National Security Advisor John Bolton are enjoying their publicity. Hey, whatever happened to James Frey? Oh wait, I see they turned “A Million Little Pieces” into  a movie. I can just see it now. “American Dirt” starring Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman – oh wait, she’s Australian.

Photo by Scott Webb on

And now I wonder is “Curse of the Ninth” cursed not to have gotten this sort of buzz? It will just have to thrive on its own merits. Oh, and what about my novel “Agave Blues,” inspired by my family’s immigrant experience, so of course it’s filled with magic realism and I’m a real half-Mexican, to boot!


Oh what a tangled web! This is the first in a series of newspaper articles that spread like wildfire across the country from San Bernardino to Boston between the period October, 1930 to April, 1934. These articles are what helped me shape the story Curse of the Ninth available now for presale.

            “First wife asserts that the beneficiary of his will, the second Mrs. Marnier (name has been changed) alienated Dr. Marnier’s affections from his first wife and family; and that further, the Las Vegas Nevada Divorce which he obtained from his first wife before marrying the second Mrs. was irregular.

            The late optometrist is asserted to have obtained the Las Vegas divorce in September of 1917. He married his second wife in October of the same year ( his death came 13 years later).            

The first Mrs. charges that the will beneficiary, a well-known musician at the time the doctor married her, “induced her husband to bequest the bulk of his estate to her.”

Oh, Phoebe Mae, will I finally uncover the truth?


GLENDALE, CA, 1930 – After thirteen years of wedded bliss, shortly before his demise and the birth of Charley, Doc and Phoebe pose for the camera in front of the home he built for her. Curse of the Ninth

Phoebe Mae

Did this sweet Phoebe Mae belong to “a fantastical religious cult, one of the causes of Doc’s infatuation” with her, as his ex-wife would later testify in court? Would his life be forever cursed the moment he first heard the young piano teacher play? Curse of the Ninth

EXTRA, EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! Did He Fall or Was He Pushed?

Excerpt from Curse of the Ninth:

GLENDALE, September, 1930: The year after the fall of Wall Street – The Stock Market Crash 1929.

“Dr. Belyea, who attended me, stated my ‘skull was fractured, three vertebrae were broken and the fall had cut a bad gash in the victim’s scalp.'” 

“Well, I certainly was the victim, but this was no accident. I must admit, dying wasn’t that painful, but it wasn’t quick either. Most agonizing were the memories I’d relive before exhaling my last breath. 

“I’m not proud of what I’d have to do. While exacting revenge had not been the goal, and it wouldn’t be sweet, staying connected to the love of my life, my darling, would be close to divine.”

Holiday Guests or As 2019 Swirls Down the Drain

My New Years’ Resolution is to get a second bathroom before the next holiday season!

photography of waterfalls between trees
Photo by Rifqi Ramadhan on
Sneaking in a moment for ourselves,
What could be more metaphorical
Than the overflowed tub
Or the near-severed thumb?
Bath water cascades over the rim
Blood dances onto the new parquet
To fraternize with the warm water
Oozing under the brand new floorboards.
Achilles-deep we stand in the flood
The jetsam and flotsam of our year.
Bone-weary, we don’t overreact
This shit happens, we still have our health.
All I had wanted was a moment
For Calgon to please take me away
All he’d asked was a minute to shave
Before the next bathroom squatter.