THE RELIGION by Nicholas CondÉ

THE RELIGION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Longwinded voodoo-hoodoo for die-hard occultists only--as a skeptical anthropologist gradually becomes convinced that the cult is a ""true religion"". . . and that some evil Big Apple voodoo-ers are out to make his child a human sacrifice. Cal Jamison, a guilt-ridden widower (wife Laurie was electrocuted by a faulty toaster), has just arrived in N.Y. with seven-year-old son Chris; thanks to Margaret Mead-ish mentor Kathryn Clay, he's teaching at Columbia. But, as soon becomes clunkingly obvious, Cal's headed for big trouble: Chris sees some slaughtered animals in the park, picks up an odd shell, and starts acting strangely (sleepwalking, chatting with his dead mother); Cal himself becomes fascinated by a series of N.Y. mutilation-murders involving small children--and begins deep research into good voodoo (the Santeria sect) and bad voodoo (mayombe), both being practiced in N.Y.'s Hispanic community. So: who is casting spells on Cal and Chris? Is it housekeeper Carmen, who soon dies mysteriously? Is it Cal's new girlfriend Torey--who eventually admits to being a ""believer""? Both Carmen and Torey, it seems, are good voodoo-ers. But Cal, now thoroughly convinced (after witnessing a wild possession ceremony and assorted signs of the gods' powers), desperately seeks help in fighting the bad voodoo-ers, who are sacrificing seven-year-old children--get this, folks--in order to prevent nuclear holocaust! So, on advice from a shaman, Cal sacrifices three animals in a cemetery. (Unfortunately, this seems to have a side effect: Torey's face is soon covered by a boil, out of which--ugh--spiders crawl.) And finally, after the obvious villain is verbosely unmasked, poor Cal must seek aid from a mayombero--a ""black-magic sorcerer"" who arranges for Cal to do astral battle against the gods: ""The gods fought, the fire of mbua and Chango. Cal watched their spirits in the air before him, then inside his head, then himself. . . . He was standing over himself!"" Familiar hooey, dished out with a few solid ghastlies, some tabloid research, and an unusual degree of talky pseudo-seriousness: only for readers who found Rosemary's Baby much too subtle or irreverent about devil-doings.

Pub Date: May 11th, 1982
Publisher: New American Library