The Cat and Cayenne by Claudie Hebert

The Cat and Cayenne

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman bounces between three love interests after visiting a voodoo psychic in this romance novel set in modern-day New Orleans.

Anne Clavel has fiery red hair and a fiery personality to match. By day, she’s a specialist in Victorian-era estate jewelry in New Orleans’ French Quarter; by night, she’s an insomniac mixed-media artist who uses Benadryl pills dipped in water in her art. Her story opens on the eve of a reunion with her ex-boyfriend Jeremy, whom she hasn’t spoken to since their breakup. Although she’s 10 years older and about 35 pounds heavier, Anne is stronger and more self-assured than ever. However, that doesn’t stop her from visiting voodoo guru Señora Cardenas to find out what Jeremy’s return means. Cardenas isn’t sure, but she puts a spell on Anne, promising that her dreams of true love will come true. Indeed, Anne and Jeremy’s spark is still there, but she can’t forget what happened between them in the past. Complicating the situation is Rey, a sexy photographer who asks Anne out at a museum, and Bianca, Anne’s best friend since high school who suddenly seems pretty desirable to Anne, too. Hebert’s debut is a stream-of-consciousness tale with many unexpected turns: sexual fluidity, dreams that may or may not be coming true, abrupt about-faces, and, ultimately, an unreliable narrator. Hebert pulls off Anne’s internal deliberations with creative finesse; she’s simultaneously insightful (“Upended endings grow ghosts”), melodramatic (“I hear the ghastly screams of the massacre of love that was our relationship’s sad end”), and shallow (“Señora Cardenas totally looks sort of like a shorter Gwen Stefani!”). However, she’s also frustratingly elusive, and readers must endure many confusing debates between Anne and Jeremy before finding out what really happened the night they broke up—an immature misunderstanding that was blown out of proportion. The dialogue can also be stiff and unnatural, and there are frequent spelling errors (“What do women where to these events?”) and grammatical issues (“First, I shimmy into on a coral silky slip dress”).

A tumultuous, unpredictable, and ultimately absurd love story.

Pub Date: July 14th, 2015
Page count: 209pp
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Program: Kirkus Indie
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