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Voodoo Child (Book Review)

Voodoo Child Cover FlatFans of 1980s horror movies, rejoice! You can revisit that fertile film era in a new novel set in the period. Voodoo Child by Andre Duza and Wayne Simmons is a literary tribute to genre cinema of the time, with a narrative that vividly conjures up memories of characters that populated such films: Bodacious and sometimes brainy babes; rude and rowdy rednecks; omniscient old folks.

Rural Louisiana is the backdrop for the tale but there’s no Southern comfort there. The local lake and woods of the rustic region named Blackwater are said to be haunted by a drowned witch. Although the legend draws tourists and thrill seekers to the area, Lori Sawyer’s journey back is a homecoming. Biracial Lori knows the lore of the land and believes the place to be a confluence of African/French/Old South mystical power. It seems an ideal location to heal the psychic wounds of her friend Abby. Abby is traumatized by her lover’s murder—a crime she committed in self defense. Joining the two gal pals for their backwoods excursion is raucous Roxy, a tough stripper not thrilled to be camping out. It’s hard to blame her given imagery such as this: “The trees leaned towards them in the light breeze, seeming to eavesdrop. The music of the night suggested a world unseen, things with spiny exoskeletons, long, hairy legs, and mouths with too many moving parts scurrying beyond the firelight’s reach.”

Of course, creepy crawlies prove to be the least of their concerns. Lori’s car is vandalized and their campground is trashed; someone, or something, is creating mayhem. When the havoc escalates to carnage, the plot becomes a thorough immersion into the universe of 1980s horror movies. A cinematic flourish punctuates the writing, as is evident from this passage: “Every movement was scored by the crackle-crunch of dead muscle and flesh, and brittle old bones. There was a strange glow in her completely white eyes, something resembling life, but not alive. It contradicted the rest of her face, which hung slack. Her rounded shoulders, too. Her lips were dry and cracked. Her hair was a disheveled headdress of graying, black wisps. A Y-shaped autopsy incision had been sutured closed across her upper chest. The incision was clean and neat, with no flaying of skin.”

Authors Duza and Simmons are poster child devotees of 1980s horror. Their enthusiasm for the movies of that decade infuses the novel. The resulting Voodoo Child is a book filled with film fan admiration and fond nostalgia. The authors know their stuff, and it’s a treat to go back in time with them.

Voodoo Child is published by Infected Books and is available now.

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About Sheila M. Merritt

Sheila Merritt wrote book reviews for Mystery Scene Magazine. Currently she writes essays for Scream Magazine. For several years, she had contributed reviews, articles and conducted interviews for the Hellnotes.com newsletter. She was friends with a British ghost hunter who happened to be the author of a biography of Boris Karloff. She’s had a brief and embarrassing conversation with Christopher Lee in a department store, but also had a much more relaxing exchange with director-writer Frank Darabont at a horror convention. She became enamored of horror films and dark fiction as a child. Mother didn't approve of them. The rest, as they say, is history.

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