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Wild Man’s Curse: A Wilds Of The Bayou Novel (Book 1) Susannah Sandlin

wmc“The bones said death was comin’,
and the bones never lied.”
 – Susannah Sandlin

“Morning, ma’am. I’m looking for Tommy Mason. Is he around?” Polite and professional, that was Senior Agent Broussard.
“Lord, what’s that no-good sonofabitch done now? Wait, you ain’t a cop; you’re a game warden. “What’d he do, run over a fish?”
― Susannah Sandlin, Wild Man’s Curse

The songs, the songs, of Bayou Country. Gator’s roar and painter’s scream. Moans of the wind through the cypress trees, the sibilant slide of a body into the water. Whether gator or fishin’ boat, or the sound of a body being slid over the side. Songs and scents – and always, life goes on. Until it doesn’t.

The bayou lives on, as it has always lived, private, dark and secretive. A mystical land where the boundaries between life and death are small. Where Catholicism resides side-by-side with hoodoo, Santaria nestles down with Southern Baptist, and one is just as likely to visit a traiteur as an M.D. She is ancient, unbending, the cycle of life personified. Don’t piss-off the Hoodoo Woman, the veves, or the houngan, for magic is real in the Bayou, and the bones, they never lie.

Eva Savoie knows all about the bone, about life and death . . . and she know, in her own bones, that old man Death is coming. So she cleans her house, scrubs her floors, and sits down to die. But the Savoies have never known the pleasure of a quiet death. And Eva’s is more painful, and bloodier, than any Sovoie before. The curse will have its due, just as it has for the last three generations of Savoies, for what her grandfather did all those years ago.

Gentry Broussard, un bon garde-chasse, a Senior Enforcement Officer for the Louisiana Depart of Wildlife and Fisheries, is the one who finds Eva’s body. He even catches a glimpse of her murderer – a murderer who is, or should be, a ghost. Now, he is on the hunt for a man dead four years, and what he finds may destroy not only his life, but that of Ceelie Savoie, Eva’s niece and heir. Heir not only to Eva’s property on Whisky Bayou, but to Eva’s ability with the bones.

“Its dying call is weak but clear
Yet it’s a plaintive voice I don’t want to hear.
I won’t go back,
I won’t go home,
‘Cause next time, Whiskey Bayou won’t let me go.”

Ceelie promised her daddy on his deathbed that she would escape, and never return. But ain’t life funny that way? Now Ceelie is back in the swamp. And it may be her blood Gentry wades through this time.

Admittedly, I am a HUGE Louisiana novel lover. My favorite author of all time for the stories of the bayous, swamps and small towns has always been James Lee Burke. His soulful renditions of the voice of the land touch the soul, drawing you into the land that time forgot, the land where the curtains of civilization fade away, leaving only the truth behind. Susannah Sandlin doesn’t quite have that soul-deep ability to draw you in, to allow you to close your eyes and smell the funk of brackish water, the sweet waft of water orchid. You don’t quite see the cypress in your mind, or hear the egret’s call. But she is close. The suspense is there, the respect for the peoples and culture of the South. I look forward eagerly to Black Diamond, the next in the Wilds of the Bayou series.

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Review: Pack of Strays By Dana Cameron – Second From The Fangborn Series

seven
You have GOT to read the Fangborn Series! But start with the first, Seven Kinds of Hell. You will be thrilled you did!

When I received Pack of Strays”  from Netgalley.com I didn’t realize that this was actually the second book in the “Fangborn” series. I had heard very good things about “Fangborn” on-line at goodreads.com, and I was excited to try it. However, finding this was the second, well, what could I do? I ran over to Amazon and grabbed the first, Seven Kinds of Hell.

What can I say, but WOW! The first paragraph of my Seven Kinds of Hell review shows how excited I about the book:

One thing you must know about this book before walking into the story is this – you hold in your hand not some simple, See Jane Run, Run Jane Run novel. If you are looking for minimal world building, simplistic answers, and only two or three characters with clear-cut goals, this book isn’t for you. It is so far out of the “let’s just do mindless entertainment” wheelhouse you can’t even see it from the top of the Pharos Lighthouse.

I love, well, adore actually, books with depth of world building, complex questions and characters, and far-from-mindless entertainment. Well, not always – sometimes we just want to have fun, right? But with “Seven Kinds of Hell,” the excitement kept me engrossed from the first page to the last. And Pack of Strays? Oh, yes. Zoe Miller’s life isn’t getting any easier. If anything, her life is becoming more and more complicated as she not only learns more about who she is, and why, but also how important she apparently is within this weird, wild world she now inhabits.  A deadly world.

Ms. Cameron once again amazes with her depth of historical and archaeological knowledge. While Zoe stayed mostly on the East Coast in the last book, this time she globe trots to some of the most beautiful, and fascinating, cities in the world. Copenhagen to Istanbul, her search for the artifacts which call to her lead her to mysterious places and people, while transformations to her very being change her in such a way that even the other Fangborn do not understand what is happening – but they do know they don’t like it. But why?

If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul. – Alphonse de Lamartine

The ending was both shocking and startling, and the worse part of it is that now I have to wait for the next book! Zoe started out the series as just another budding archaeologist, doing the grunt-work, labeling and storing and basically living in the basement of the Boston Museum. What a terrifying change, as she discovers not only that werewolves and vampires and oracles (oh, my!) are real, but they are nothing like Hollywood would have you believe – and she just might be the only hope of saving them all.

With friends becoming enemies, and enemies becoming possible friends, Zoe is stretched beyond anything she has ever believed possible. Will she learn who, and what, her mother was? And is her unknown father possibly still alive? The suspense, action, and depth of the characters will keep you reading into the wee hours!

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Five stars? Nah – read them both, one after another and if you love the same kind of books I do, I absolutely expect you to give it a Perfect Ten!

Highly recommended. This book was provided to me by Netgalley in return for a realistic review, and I very much appreciate it!

Review: Seven Kinds of Hell – Dana Cameron – Archeological Thriller

This is a gift, it comes with a price
Who is the lamb, and who is the knife? – Florence & The Machine, Rabbit Heart

“This belonged to my sister-in-law,” Prometheus explained. “Pandora.”

A lump formed in my throat. “As in Pandora’s box?”

Prometheus shook his head. “I don’t know how this box business got started. It was never a box. It was a pithos, a storage jar. I suppose Pandora’s pithos doesn’t have the same ring to it.” ― Rick Riordan, The Last Olympian

 You see what we do to each other over the slightest differences in religion or politics? We beat each other up over baseball games. We’ll kill over the wrong-colored bandana. What would we do faced with the Fangborn? – Adam Nichols, Seven Kinds of Hell

seven
Click to purchase the book – that is, if you are ready for it – – – this is one kick-ass ride!

One thing you must know about this book before walking into the story is this – you hold in your hand not some simple, See Jane Run, Run Jane Run novel. If you are looking for minimal world building, simplistic answers, and only two or three characters with clear-cut goals, this book isn’t for you. It is so far out of the “let’s just do mindless entertainment” wheelhouse you can’t even see it from the top of the Pharos Lighthouse. Instead, this is a book of complexities. Of unknown alliances, political convolutions, archeological mysteries, and xenophobic hatreds worthy of any Shakespearian play. Families destroy one another, blood is spilled, and there is avarice, sociopathy, vigilantism, viciousness, and political infighting enough to fulfill any Roman Senate chamber. No, if your idea of a good book is simplicity, walk away now.

Ah, but if you are like me – if you long for convolutions, for amazing world-building, a plethora of characters with both known and unknown agendas, a modern storyline with tentacles reaching back to the beginnings of time, a deep understanding of the history, archeology and stories of the cradles of civilization, rejoice, my friend! For Dana Cameron’s words will reach out to you, grab your mind and inject it with adrenaline, force you to pay attention, to learn, and to madly mark up whole paragraphs in order that you might research the lands and stories she portrays. It. Was. AWESOME!!!

Of course, the idea that there are creatures in this world, those who call themselves the Fangborn, calls to my love of all things fantasy. And Ms. Cameron’s concepts of fantastical creatures are not simplistic either. “Vampires” harken back to the snake goddesses of Knossos and Minoa rather than being the more Germanic wall crawlers popular in modern literature. There is no disturbing of the laws of physics as werewolves retain their mass when changed, and, gratefully, their clothes! Rather than burning in the sun, these vampires crave the sunshine, as do their snake cousins, and use their fangs to heal, and their powers of mind control to protect. Very different than what one normally would expect – but then, Ms. Cameron also makes grand use of various animal entities from history, from the Egyptian Anubis to the Greek Medusa.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. – Mahatma Gandhi

History is about to change, worlds are set to collide, and humans are, of course, acting like humans – and not exactly in a good way. No, you will not learn who all the characters are and what their alliances are in this volume of the story. Who exactly are the Fangborn who first approach Zoe? Who, or what, is Download and from where do his powers spring? Is Adam really to be trusted, or merely a mercenary, willing to change sides on a whim? More importantly, exactly who and what was Zoe’s father – and apparently more importantly, her mother? The book ends with the answers in Zoe’s hands, in a thin, coffee stained folder. Is it the truth? Is it a lie? Only time will tell. Well, and the next volume, should help of course! Pack of Strays comes out on April 15, 2014 (only a few days away, Hooray!) and my finger was hot on the preorder button. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but no matter what book is next on my spreadsheet, that one gets moved to the top!

I received this book from Justin Golenbock at 47North and Netgalley in return for a realistic review. All comments are my own and reflect my own interests. I want to thank Justin for this marvelous opportunity and look forward to reading the next book in the series!

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