In Holmes’ paranormal fantasy, a Confederate officer’s attraction to a mysterious, beautiful woman leads him into the mystical world of voodoo.
Sgt. George Francis Genois, a Confederate army officer, has returned to his Louisiana hometown to celebrate the wedding of his twin brother, Gerald. George’s visit coincides with the arrival of an Indian summer and some unusual phenomena. After celebrating with Gerald at a local saloon, George is struck by thick fog that seems to envelop him. Some time later, he sees a beautiful woman on the riverbank encouraging a group of slaves to fight for their freedom. Knowing the woman risks arrest on charges of treason, he offers to escort her away from the riverbank and back to her carriage. He soon discovers the woman’s name is Jewella and she’s the sister of a childhood friend. George finds himself inexplicably drawn to the headstrong Jewella and proposes marriage. Shortly before the wedding, Jewella is arrested for treason. Desperate to save her, he seeks out a local witch doctor named Mamuska, who agrees to help but has his own agenda. Under a voodoo moon, the fates of George and Jewella as well as Mamuska and his wife, Ophelia, hang in the balance. The strength of Holmes’ novel lies in its colorful settings and diverse cast of characters. Primarily set in Louisiana in the 1800s, the action takes George from the saloons and grand estates of Louisiana high society to the mysterious world of the rivers and bayous. George, a complex lead character, is dedicated to his military career and the Confederacy, yet he’s willing to risk everything he’s worked for to save Jewella. Holmes also brings the dual journeys of George and Mamuska together in provocative ways. For all its strengths, though, the novel could benefit from tighter editing. There are no chapter titles or numbers—each chapter is announced with the words “Next Chapter”—and spelling inconsistencies (e.g., “alter” instead of “altar”) pop up rather frequently.
Vividly rendered gothic settings and intriguing characters help advance the historical and supernatural elements despite weak editing that trips up the narrative momentum.