Yellow Moon
Jewell Parker Rhodes
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Yellow Moon
Jewell Parker Rhodes
304 pages
August 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Part of a trilogy, to be followed by a tale of post-Katrina New Orleans, the author reaches into her previous novel, Voodoo Dreams: A Novel of Marie Laveau, resurrecting a powerful characters banished two centuries earlier by the voodooienne, a malevolent man who twisted Laveauís gifts to his own ends, mad with jealousy that the power of voodoo passes through matrilineal lines.

Great-great-granddaughter of Marie Laveau and a physician at Charity Hospital with a small daughter, Marie-Claire, the current Marie is unique: she values her skills as a voodoo practitioner as much as her work as a doctor, a healer in both regards.

But with the advent of a destructive force raging through the New Orleans nights, a killer who literally sucks the blood, vampire-like, from his victims, Marie faces a threat that will bring her either to the fullness of her powers or total defeat. There will be no middle ground in this battle, the vampire gaining form from each victim, his strength growing with each fresh kill.

As yet formless, without name or recognition, this entity, or wazimamoto, transcends the real world, where forensic evidence is a reliable weapon. Shadowed by detective Dan Parks, Marie visits the sites of the three most recent murders - a wharf rat, a jazzman and a priest - only to be overwhelmed by a realization that this monster must be stopped as it cuts a bloodless swath through the music-gorged streets of a city infused with celebration, gaiety and excess.

Bit by bit, the author seduces her readers, drawing them into a place between heaven and hell, where spirit and superstition thrive on the troubled history of a city tied by blood to Africa, the exploitative colonization that delivers slaves through the Middle Passage to America, the sea littered with the corpses of the dead. Calling on Agwa, god of the sea, Marie gathers the forces of her ancestors to destroy a growing, feeding evil.

Forced to suspend his disbelief in the otherworldly, Parks cannot rely on his usual pragmatism in solving the crimes. He follows Marie, absorbing her empathy and respect for the people who channel their pain into the energetic music that sustains them, the jazz and blues that fills the night air, the ancient, throbbing rhythms that also call the monster from its lair.

Terrified that harm might befall three-year-old Marie-Claire, Marie must face this force, must call him out, challenging his power with her own. To that end, she prepares a great cacophony of music he will be unable to resist. In this time and place, she will either be destroyed or destroy the monster that has finally found his name and relationship to young Marie Laveau.

The result is an epic battle waged in a musicianís hall, the goodwill and courage of all the musicians who call for the dead and a final, deadly contretemps, a raucous symphony of untethered spirits, Marie demanding an appearance of the wazimamoto in a last, heady dance of death. Filled with the energy of New Orleans, dramatic and erotic, the prose delivers on very level, a seductive tale of the netherworld of spirit and superstition, where evil thrives on fear and good calls out for champions, for victory over the old in a new world.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2008

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