…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
Vodou. Obeah. Santeria. These religions seem mysterious and dark to the uninitiated, but the truth is often very different. Still, while they hold the potential for great power, they can be dangerous to those who don’t take appropriate precautions. Interfering with the spirits is best left to those who know what they’re doing, for when the proper respect isn’t shown, trouble can follow. In these four novellas, steamy nights of possession and exotic ritual will trigger forbidden passion and love. You cannot hide your desires from the loa, or from the maddening spell of the drums. Four acclaimed m/m authors imagine homoerotic love under the spell of Voodoo.
“The Bird” by Eli Easton
Colin Hastings is sent to Jamaica in 1870 to save his father’s sugar cane plantation. If he succeeds, he can marry his fiancée back in London and take his place in proper English society. But Colin finds more than he bargained for on the island. His curiosity about Obeah, the native folk magic, leads him to agree to a dangerous ritual where he is offered his heart’s most secret desire—one he’s kept deeply buried all his life. What happens when a proper English gentleman has his true sensual nature revealed and freed by the Obeah spirits?
“The Book of St. Cyprian” by Jamie Fessenden
“When Alejandro Valera finds a book of black magic in New Orleans, he ships it to his friend Matthew in New Hampshire so he can read it when he gets home. Unfortunately, Matthew’s dog, Spartacus, gets to the package first, and Alejandro returns to find Matthew locked out of his apartment by the suddenly vicious pit bull. The boys call on all the magic they know to free Spartacus from the evil spirit, but they might need to accept that they’re in over their heads.”
Uninvited by B.G. Thomas
When a hot tip leads Kansas City reporter Taylor Dunton to a series of grisly murders, his investigation points to Myles Parry and his vodou shop. Myles wants nothing more than to practice his religion in peace, and he hopes Taylor can help him show the community they have nothing to fear. The problem is all the clues point to Myles as the suspect and only Taylor can help him prove his innocence. However, this case has also caught the attention of the vodou spirits of the Lwa… and they’ve taken an interest in Taylor as well.
The Dance by Kim Fielding
After being surrounded by deaths and near-deaths, introverted chemist Bram Tillman wishes he could undo the past year. Then beautiful Daniel Royer shows up with a warning about more danger ahead—and a promise to use vodou to help Bram discover what’s trying to kill him. But while Bram’s attraction to Daniel grows, vodou spirits change Bram in unexpected ways.
I was super excited when Gothika#2 was announced earlier this year because I really enjoyed the first collection AND this one included all the same authors (minus one), plus new-to-me writer B.G. Thomas. Once again, the cover absolutely dazzles, and once again, I’m totally in love with the theme! The vodou trope was more fun than I expected it to be, and also more interesting and informative. I learned it’s not all dark, ominous arts and chicken feet offerings (although…yeah); it’s also about embracing the best parts of yourself and letting go of your inner, ahem, demons. So without further ado(dou), here are my short review(dous) of each story.
I’m stopping now, promise. ;-)
The Dance, by Kim Fielding, 4 stars
As far as I’m concerned, Fielding can’t write a bad story. Like, I dare her. She’s especially strong when it comes to shorts, and The Dance is my reigning favorite. (I say this every time, sue me.) Here, Fielding writes about lost souls finding their way home, about the delicacy of new love, and about letting go of the past and who you once were so that you can embrace the new-and-improved you. Bram (best character name ever) is mourning a significant loss. There’s also some crazy shenanigans happening. Like…is someone trying to end Bram? Daniel, vodou priest-in-training, to the rescue! I so loved Daniel’s tender, caring approach, and I really enjoyed how these two combined forces to help Bram get busy living.
The Bird, by Eli Easton, 3 stars
I’ve confessed my joy for Easton in the past—her writing is so rock solid, and her characters are completely my cuppa. But sadly, The Bird didn’t work for me. It wasn’t the writing, and it wasn’t even the characters. I just didn’t care for the story itself. Maybe it was the time period (I confess to needing to be in a pretty special mindset to digest historicals). I also think it was the setting of colonial Jamaica; it felt like such a hopelessly oppressed place. I didn’t care for the fact that Colin was separated from his (eventual) love interest, Richard, for the majority of the story. It also niggled that Colin believed himself a heterosexual man for the majority of the tale. I just really wanted these two to get together a lot sooner, and I wanted more of Richard’s POV than what I got. Those things aside, I enjoyed the secondary characters, and I liked the way vodou was woven into the story.
The Book of St. Cyprian, by Jamie Fessenden, 4 stars
Fessenden’s writing shines in this short story about a mysterious book, a psychotic dog (poor pit bull rep takes another hit, boo) and two young friends/wanna-be lovers. Alejandro (more character name love!) and Matthew have been buddies since they were little. The guys have feelings for each other that they’re not ready or willing to share out loud just yet (mostly because they think they’re not reciprocated). But things go into overdrive when Alejandro finds a mysterious book of spells, sends it to Matthew, and Matthew’s pup promptly gnaws on the tome and unleashes a wicked demo. Cujo alert! With the aid of Alejandro’s abuela, the guys work together to release the demon and save the doggy. I liked the connection between Alejandro and Matthew, but yeah, a little…more (WINK) would have been nice. Still, I loved the pace of the story and I enjoyed the supporting cast of characters.
Uninvited, by B.G. Thomas, 3 stars
Uninvited started off okay for me—I liked newspaper reporter Tyler and totally appreciated his sense of humor and his skittishness related to a particularly gruesome crime he was reporting about. I also got a real tickle out of Tyler’s BFF, Gay. After those introductions, and after meeting Tyler’s eventual love interest, Myles, though, things fell apart. I had a niggling urge to scan because the dialogue and story were all tell and no show (a personal pet peeve of mine, I’ll admit). In my opinion, the mystery aspect was flimsy, and the who-done-it arc didn’t quite fit within the scope of the story. I also didn’t pick up much of a connection between Tyler and Miles. All that said, though, I thought the writing was well done, and I’ll definitely take a look at Thomas’ other work.