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Voodoo Season: A Marie Laveau Mystery Hardcover – August 30, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Medicine and voodoo may seem at odds, but Marie Levant, first-year resident at New Orleans's Charity Hospital, discovers she has a gift for more than one kind of healing. Rhodes develops this theme to full advantage in her second book (after Voodoo Dreams) about this descendant of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen. Strange forces are at work in the humid heat, and Marie is plagued by disturbing dreams and the sense that she has lived this life before. She employs her inner strength and feminist powers in pursuit of the murderer of the gentle and handsome young man who shared her bed one evening, awakening feelings she had too long ignored. Marie's mother fled to Chicago when she was small and cleaned houses to survive. When the mother died mysteriously, the daughter went into foster care. Events intensify with Marie's delivery of a dead girl's living baby. She feels herself the mother and resolves to find the baby's origins. Rhodes's tale of spiritual empowerment and prophetic vision reveals the practice of voodoo as good as well as evil. Nonbelievers along with the initiated will be riveted throughout.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Rhodes portrayed the revered and feared nineteenth-century New Orleans voodoo queens, Marie Laveau and her daughter of the same name, with insight and lyricism in her debut novel, Voodoo Dreams (1993). Here she launches a mystery trilogy about the voodoo queens' present-day descendant. Orphaned as a girl in Chicago, this Marie is unaware of her spiritual inheritance. All she knows is that she felt compelled to become a doctor and move to New Orleans. Now, as she puzzles over what happened to the beautiful young women of mixed race who are showing up in the ER apparently dead and certainly pregnant, she is assailed by frightening, otherworldly visions. Rhodes revels in the sensuality and danger of this storied town in an erotic, easily consumed tale as her plucky would-be doctor turns voodoo sleuth attuned to gods, ghosts, and villains. Regrettably, Rhodes verges on voodoo-lite in scenes redolent of campy Hollywood; nevertheless, Marie's world of sex, malevolence, the undead, and miraculous rescue is alluring. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
I have not given up on Rhodes however.
The novel centers on first year medical resident, Marie Levant, a cum laude graduate from the school of hard knocks. As a child living in Chicago, she discovered her mother's lifeless body on the kitchen floor and was whisked away only to be abused in the foster care system. She defies the odds by excelling academically and winning scholarships to medical school, which she views as a natural progression to her inherent life-long healing abilities. She is an animal lover, empathetic to her patients, and acts rather impulsively on her rather sensuous nature. The novel opens with her relocating to New Orleans, after being drawn there by unknown forces. She battles disturbing dreams that contain vivid images of ritual ceremonies, childbirth, and a woman being persecuted. The tale is largely told from Levant's perspective and uses flashbacks/memories to show her immediate past as a forlorn child and haunting dreams to reveal her spiritual past as Laveau, the Voodoo Queen. As you can guess, Levant is the chosen one, and it seems everyone knows it but her.
Rhodes sprinkles elements of suspense and foreboding in lines such as, "Summer. Sin season. Fever season. Anything could happen. Even the undead," and emphasizes Levant's confusion and struggles as she comes into her "season" or her reckoning with her destiny. She initially rejects her increasing power of healing, insight and intuition and balks at the awareness of herself as a Marie Laveau reincarnate; a powerful Voodooienne. However, along the way, she begrudgingly embraces her fate as she discovers painful family secrets and the truth behind her mother's death and its eerie similarity with the murders of the young, unclaimed girls who keep showing up in her wake.
Although not a strong mystery (more so filled with anticipation), the book does a wonderful job clarifying and dispelling misconceptions about the Vodun religion and the origin of Voodoo as the merging of African beliefs and Christianity. One character explains, "Religions from the African Diaspora all value the snake as knowledge, all-knowing, an infinity and fertility symbol. White Christians bemoan that a snake tempted Eve in the Garden. But in voodoo, the same myth is a cause for celebration. Snakes represent knowledge. `Knowing is what keeps you safe, strong.' What good is Eden with ignorance?" Going a step further, she parallels spiritual icons. In one example, Legba is akin to St. Peter and serves as a gatekeeper.
Rhodes masterfully blends in the historical decadence of the New Orleans of old - the true purpose of the Quadroon Balls with hints of the La Placage lifestyle, lessons on racism/colorism (New Orleans style), complete with beguiling glimpses into another world complete with ghosts, zombies, spirit gods, and ritual sacrifices.
Reviewed by Phyllis
Nubian Circle Book Club
Marie learns that young females are being abducted to serve as prostitutes at reenactment galas of nineteenth century quadroon balls; the unfortunate innocents are used and abused before being converted into slave zombies. New Orleans Police Detective Reneaux struggles to save the girls and uncover the monster behind this hideous practice, but only Marie by claiming her heritage can hope to stop the evil that engulfs the young of the city.
VOODOO SEASON is a terrific paranormal police procedural that will make believers of readers that there are strange unexplained essences and inexplicable powers out there. The story line is action-packed as Marie slowly accepts her ancestry "gifts" while Reneaux struggles with a nasty case and how Marie fits in the middle of the maelstrom. Fans of fast-paced exciting supernatural mysteries will want to read this jewel of a thriller.
A book that will keep readers turning the pages. The author seeks to dispel the myth that voudon, or voodoo, is synonymous with evil...and whether you believe or you don't, this tale will appeal to all who can appreciate a good story.