A novel about voodoo, motherhood, and Houston.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyFusing prophecy, pregnancy and voodoo, Stewart (The Night Watch) delivers a fanciful magic realist tale set in modern-day Houston. After her mother dies, Antoinette ("Toni") Beauchamp receives a "gift she can't refuse": visitations from her mother's personal gods. These gods, or riders, are given access to Toni when her sister, Candy, following instructions left by their mother, feeds Toni a doctored drink. The beverage makes Toni receptive to the gods, who ride around inside her head and use her body to further their own ends. Sickened by this invasion and saddened by the loss of her mother, Toni decides to have a child. The narrative follows the progress of Toni's pregnancy and her struggles to keep the riders in check. Toni's rambling first-person narrative is vivacious and entertaining. The characterizations of Toni, Candy, their beaus and their father shine with humor and a Southern sauciness. Laced throughout are stories about the riders that illuminate their attributes and add an element of dark whimsy to the narrative. This isn't Stewart's most tightly focused novel, but his poignant take on voodoo among middle-class women makes for delicious fun. (Aug.)
VOYA - Mary ArnoldThe gods must be crazy-'cause they are living and working their magic in Houston. When Toni Beauchamp (pronounced "Beechum") studied to become an actuary, she hoped to put as much distance between her daily life and her mother's as possible. Toni's mom, Elena, was the real thing. Her magic powers were as strong as the weird assortment of household gods who exacted payment for her gifts by taking possession of her. Elena's life was a roller coaster her family had to ride, willy nilly; when she dies, her daughters discover that her legacy lives on, because some gifts cannot be refused. A wild and wacky tour de force of magical realism with touches of Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Lewis Nordan southern eccentrics that will appeal to the teens enthralled with Sabrina and Sandra Bullock in the film version of Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic (Putnam's, 1995). The saga of Geronimo the Zombie Frog, the Mexican folk magic of the Muertomobile, and commodities market speculation is at heart the story of daughters and mothers; family connections made and broken and bent; and rescuing all the Little Lost Girls who search for the line between lies and the truths we cannot understand, or do not want to hear. The sisters are adult characters who frankly discuss impending unwed motherhood, sexuality, and the impact of a family background that includes alcoholism, abandonment, and abuse. They learn that love and family connections are never easy; that even when the future is a known quantity, the human heart never is. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12 and adults).
Library JournalAfter her mother's death, Toni Beauchamp discovers her true inheritance--an inner gift that makes her the conduit for a group of "Riders," archetypal gods that possess her at their whim to set into motion their own mysterious schemes. Set in an alternate-Earth reinfused by magical forces, the latest novel by the author of Resurrection Man (LJ 5/15/95) depicts a reality in which even the smallest events resound with import and in which a young woman's efforts to make peace with her past lead her to a confrontation with the conspiratorial spirits that shape her future. Stewart's elegant prose imparts a lyrical feel to this tale that should appeal to fans of subtle fantasy and magical realism.
Kirkus ReviewsContemporary metaphorical fantasy from the author of "Night Watch" (1997). Momma, Elena Beauchamp of Houston, Texas, has died of cancer, leaving two daughters to argue over her legacy: Momma, you see, was a witch, and while Toni, the plain, practical daughter, wants neither the benefits nor the burdens that accrue, gorgeous and optimistic Candy would welcome the gift. The Riders, spirits embodied in a set of weird dolls, yielded Momma her magic abilities; but in exchange, the mercurial Mockingbird, the cold, hard Preacher, Sugar the flirt, Pierrot the cruel clown, the stern, protective Widow, or the implacable, manipulative Mr. Copper would also "mount", or possess, her for a while. Momma, too, would tell heart-rending stories about a Little Lost Girl who could never find her way home. At the funeral, Candy, she can sometimes see the future, but only its happy events, tricks Toni into drinking Momma's Mockingbird Cordial (as Momma had instructed), and poor Toni finds sheþs inherited the Riders against her will. Even worse, Toni learns all about Momma's darkest secrets, not just the drunkenness, cruelty, and favoritism, but debts, affairs, even another daughter whom the Widow forced Momma to abandon. In confronting these unexpected developments, Toni slowly learns to take control of her own life and comes to understand and accept Momma's "gift that cannot be refused". Knotty, unsparing, and impressively wrought, but what it all means is anyone's guess.
- Small Beer Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)
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