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Damballa Paperback – May 30, 2015
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I have been a fan of Charles Saunders' work since the mid 70s. "Damballa," is a radical departure from his sword and sorcery fantasies set in the mythology of a fictional Africa, and showcases Saunders' mastery of his craft as he moves effortlessly from that world into the world of pulp fiction.
Saunders takes us on a twisting, turning journey from an innocuous upscale social gathering in Harlem to an epic battle in the boxing ring between the black American champion, "Jackhammer" Jackson and Wolfgang Krieger, the "Aryan Adonis" of Nazi Germany, that pays homage to the classic match between Joe Louis and Max Schmelling with the same black vs. white; American vs. Nazi overtones of the original. This fight, however, has far more than mere racial and political ramifications as Saunders' roller-coaster ride delves into the well-documented world of secret Nazi experimentation that horrifies the reader, and yet, is completely believable from what we know of the Nazis and their gruesome past.
Entwined in this maelstrom is Damballa. A Batman-type figure of unknown origin, he is a hero to the everyday blacks of Harlem, but is reviled by the New York City police department as a vigilante, or worse. He appears where he is not expected and vanishes without a trace, sometimes leaving corpses in his wake. Do his powers come from voodoo, or magic, or science, all of the above, or somewhere else?
Like Saunders' fictional African tales, the "Imaro" and "Dossouye" series of novels, it is impossible for the reader to see what lies beyond the next bend in the road of "Damballa." The only thing you can expect is the unexpected, and that's exactly what you get. Hopefully, we'll get another "Damballa" novel, and soon.
--- Joe Bonadonna, author of MAD SHADOWS:THE WEIRD TALES OF DORGO THE DOWSER