Magical mother-daughter bonds prove tough to sever in this sequel to the Southern gothic Sweet Unrest (2014).
Recently possessed Chloe Sabourin is reeling from her unwitting role in the recent murders and dark magic that rocked New Orleans and devastated by the discovery that her mother, Mina, is the witch Thisbe. Chloe fears further manipulation and questions her newfound magical powers but finds allies in her friend Lucy Aimes, mixed-magic practitioner Mama Legba, and Legba’s flirtatious nephew, Odane. Less helpful are Chloe’s preoccupied boyfriend, Piers, and Odane’s icky father, Ikenna, whose warped idea of family ties echoes Thisbe’s. Missing her own mother and ignoring Mama’s advice, Chloe learns about Thisbe—a former 19th-century slave longing for her lost love, Augustine, and locked in an eternal battle with psychotic slave owner Roman Dutilette—through convenient touch-induced flashbacks and frequent nightmares. Chloe’s struggle to separate herself from her mother gains urgency when Chloe must stop Thisbe from summoning Baron Samedi—darkly delightful but vaguely defined as a demon, a Loa, and a trickster psychopomp—and fight her mother in order to save her friends. While the inconsistent use of dialect and magical catchall version of Voodoo prove distracting and insensitive, Maxwell’s mixture of past and present, dreams and reality, speech and telepathy is immersive and delirious.
Mommy dearest’s deal with the devil offers psychological melodrama and ghoulish thrills. (Paranormal suspense. 14-18)