Black Candle Women

Graydon House. Feb. 2023. 368p. Tr $28.99. ISBN 9781525899911.
In the decades before the novel’s present, Augusta Montrose was blessed with a gift from her ancestor, the loa Lanora; recognizing this, the powerful Bela Nova began training her in the religion of Voodoo and the practice of hoodoo magic. But when Augusta ran off with Bela Nova’s son, Bela Nova cursed the Montrose family: the men they love will die. Years later, as her daughter, Madelyn, struggles with addiction, Augusta takes her granddaughters Victoria and Willow and moves to California. Now the women, including Victoria’s daughter, Nickie, cohabitate in an uneasy alliance. Victoria uses Lanora’s gift as a therapist; Willow creates spells and potions. When Nickie invites a boy over for her birthday dinner, the women find themselves trying to explain their family curse to a teenager ignorant of their history and gifts. Augusta, left unable to speak after a stroke, struggles to communicate with her family the events that led to the curse. Madelyn joins the household, adding to the tension as she tries to redeem herself. The family fractures, culminating in Nickie running away and the women returning to New Orleans to confront Augusta’s past so they can move forward. Chapters provide alternating points of view, and the lack of Madelyn’s voice reinforces her outsider status. Augusta’s narrative focuses on the past, illustrating the ripple effect of her actions. A Spotify playlist is provided by the author.
VERDICT Generations of women must confront their fears, resolve their issues, and rebuild their relationships. Good general purchase.

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