by Tim Powers ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 1987
Pirates and voodoo in the Caribbean strike sparks of freshly bizarre fantasy, by the author of the smartly acclaimed The Anubis Gates (1985). Powers is a rich stylist whose charismatic language keeps pace with his storytelling and rarely slips into high purple--and even then, it errs on the side of the angels. His is a world beyond Newton's laws, a place where attraction and repulsion are unstable and the Fountain of Youth exists, but is a swamp bath useful for driving off ghosts and resurrecting the dead. The story bubbles along with always a new ghost ship or severed head. John Chandagnac sails off to Haiti to recover his father's lost plantation and inheritance, stolen from him by John's Uncle Sebastian. But John has entered a Caribbean pirate empire, ruled over by Blackbeard. Blackbeard is a child of voodoo; by now, his whole being is infested with ghosts like weevils. He must find the Fountain of Youth. One of his zombie-manned ships commandeers Chandagnac's, and the young man is impressed into piracy, and eventually into sorcery. Captured with him are beautiful Beth Hurwood, her crazed father (who has his dead wife's head in a box--he hopes to return her to life using his daughter's body), and blimpish Leo Friend, a sorcerer with a mother fixation. John, more or less befriended by Blackbeard, accompanies him and Leo and the Hurwoods into the Florida swamp, which is filled with animate vegetation, talking fungi, and an infinitude of ghosts. Toward the end, Powers falls back on mere derring-do and acrobatics; but he pulls the story together with the resurrection of beheaded Blackbeard, who is the very model of a rum-and-gunpowder-swilling meglopsychotic. Offering full confirmation of Powers' vast talent, this imaginative tale should please his old fans and draw him many new ones.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1987
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1987
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