Deadly knitting needles, incestuous sibling, burning houses, and voodoo spells are just a few of the over-the-top plot devices in this rollicking, racy, sometimes hammy multigenerational tale from Files (Getting to the Good Part, 1998, etc.).
The narrative begins in 1966 with the death of Ophelia's baby Hamlet (a few characters’ names and a lot of violent deaths constitute the main similarities between Files’s novel and Shakespeare’s play), then weaves back and forth through her family's troubled past. Siblings Grace and Walter, born and raised in rural Tennessee, find comfort from the their father’s rages in their love for each other. But when he discovers Grace and Walter playing naked by the river, he beats them so fiercely that their mother kills her husband to save her children. Years later, when she finds the two playing a more advanced version of the game, she also kills herself. Grace becomes pregnant by her brother, marries kind Big Daddy, and bears Ophelia. Walter runs off to New Orleans, where he meets the beautiful but deadly Sukie. She may have already killed her sister and father, and her mother goes missing very shortly after Walter arrives in town; by the time he returns to Tennessee, Sukie is his wife. The newlyweds move in near Grace and Big Daddy, so Sukie can conveniently work her black magic. Grace and Big Daddy have two sons, the impressionable Polo and the sadistic Lay, who gets lessons from Aunt Sukie in the art of destroying others. After he makes Ophelia pregnant with Hamlet, Lay is sent to Detroit and quickly becomes a fearsome drug-dealer, soon involving sweet Polo in his schemes. Much, much more occurs in a tale busy enough to satisfy the requirements of several novels—or Elizabethan tragedies. Few of the developments are happy, though at end Ophelia manages to overcome the curse of her name.
In summary: ridiculous but, in reading, undeniably entertaining.