Sunday, February 5, 2017

Asaka, grow me a garden

Finished Laura Resnick's Unsympathetic Magic on lunch today, which was odd, since I read the book that comes directly after this one prior to reading this one. (Long story short. The library didn't have this one, but they did have the next one, so I read book 4 while waiting for Amazon to ship me this one.) Anyway, this lead to a minor issues of sort of knowing some of the events that happen in this book prior to reading it.

Esther, our actress narrator, is filming a guest role on The Dirty Thirty, a spin off of her world's Law & Order. In her case, this means she's filming around Mount Morris in Harlem while dressed as a bisexual junkie hooker getting pumped for information from a dirty cop. Her mother is thrilled. Sadly, the gentleman she's filming with gets sick in the middle of filming, and Esther tries following the crew to a place advertising the best fried chicken in Harlem. (Much is made over this, since it seems most restaurants in the neighborhood advertise that they have the best fried chicken in Harlem.)

Since it is Esther, instead of finding the fried chicken place, she instead runs across a black guy with a rapier, demonic gargoyles, and a sick man with a severed hand which isn't bleeding. Understandably freaked out, she tries to get help, which ends up with her getting arrested for solicitation, but not before the gargoyles grab her purse.

Lopez, her ex almost lover bails her out, but Esther gets Max involved in trying to figure out what's going on, which ends up involving a complex plot involving a Bokor, zombies, and half the Petro aspects of the Vodoun pantheon. Oh yes, and a rather large boa constrictor named Napoleon.

Now, while I've never set foot in a hounfour (the ritual space of Vodou, and honestly, I haven't lived anywhere where such a thing would be open for the curious), my love of horror movies did lead me down some rather strange research paths at various point. What she presents here seems to follow most of that research, although as is pointed out, New Orleans Vodou and Haitian Vodou  might share commonalities, but they do have different foci. Plus, given the number of syncretic traditions floating around the Caribbean (all of which are oral traditions), there's a lot to work with. And her presentation of Lopez becoming a cheval (horse, possessed by a loa) for Ogoun reflects some of what I've seen places. (Don't ask. I'd hate to lie.)

(Also, for casual readers, the title is a play on the term sympathetic magic, or the idea that something that belongs to a person [fingernail clipping, hair, etc] forms a link to that person, which can then be used to influence that person. AKA, the magic used in making 'voodoo dolls' or poppets.)

Honestly though, this is a fun and quick read and a welcome break from dystopian societies.