From Publishers Weekly
From the author of Scenes from a Sistah comes this saga of a family cast about by the winds of fate and torn apart by love and fear. Entwining the stories of two generations of the Boten clan of Downtown, Tenn., Files has created a lurid play of murder, incest, rape and deceit worthy of the Shakespearean names of her characters. She references Hamlet, but this spectacle might find a better comparison in Titus Andronicus. Ophelia Boten is the product of an incestuous union between her mother, Grace, and her latently homosexual uncle, Walter. Unaware of her own origins or the tragedies of her family's past, Ophelia is soon pregnant with a love child of her own, courtesy of her vicious older brother, Lay (short for Laertes). Lay is sent off to Detroit, where he becomes a heroin dealer, and their infant son Hamlet perishes in a fire that may or may not have been started deliberately by Sukie, Walter's voodoo witch of a wife. Unsurprisingly, the family unravels even further, and the narrative eventually degenerates into more murders, fires, addictions, rapes and just about everything else under the sun. Files's writing is serviceable, but fails to lift this soap opera up to a truly moving level, leaving the flat characters to carry out the Herculean task of transforming the overblown drama into something real and poignant. Throughout it all, Files harps on the power of love, both driving the characters further into self-destruction and bringing some eventual redemption but the plot is too unwieldy and the brushstrokes too broad for this tragedy to escape predictability and garishness. Agent, Warren Frazier of John Hawkins Assoc.; 7-city author tour.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Files' fourth novel covers the taboo subjects of incest, homosexuality, and voodoo. The southern family featured here has survived the secrets and misfortune of three generations, from the post-World War II era to the Vietnam War. The saga begins with the grandparents, Amalie and Benny, who inaugurated the family history of violence and confusion. Their perverse personal demons destroyed the family and caused the children, Grace and Walter, to share a sibling bond that was both blasphemous and wholesome. When the pregnant Grace married Big Daddy, it was hoped that the curse would be broken. Yet their sons, Lay and Polo, also became victims of the family misfortune. Walter finally marries a woman, from Louisiana, who adds another twisted secret to the already confused family history. Grace has a daughter, Ophelia, and the death of Ophelia's child in a mysterious fire prompts Grace to offer her daughter an opportunity that she herself was never able to accept; it is Ophelia's determination to confront the family curse that changes the future of the Boten legacy. Lillian LewisCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved