Voodoo in New Orleans introduced Marie Laveau to many readers. And to Robert Tallant she became an obsession, so that in the period of preparation for this novel based on her life, he has sorted fact from legend, reminiscence from nostalgia, and told her story as he feels it might have been. It reads like a novel, not a biography, and to anyone interested in the pattern of voodoo practices, this has great fascination, for Tallant has made it integral to every part of her story. Left virtually an orphan (her mother was the octoroon mistress of a white man who had set her up in her own home and supported her and their child), Marie went to live with a neighbor who taught her the art of hair dressing. But always the realm of voodoo, jungle-born, African in origin, dominated her; she felt herself ""called"" and she accepted tutelage at the hand of the then queen of the voodoos, whom she ultimately displaced. Against this background, oppulent in detail, is told the story of her marriages- of her children- of her great service to her city as she nursed victims of successive plagues, visited regularly at the prisons, and practised her witchcraft, always- she felt- for good and not for evil. It is an absorbing tale, and the emotional undertones, the conflicts in her human relations, the overwhelming loneliness of her position, all come through the story of a strange life.