Autumn is my favorite season, and Halloween my favorite holiday, so I celebrated these dual favorites by reading a delightful, ghoulish, fun Y/A paranormal novel by prolific and highly rated author Jayde Scott. I was feeling particularly courageous and intrigued by the book’s premise, so I did this despite the fact that I had not yet read the earlier books in the series (called Ancient Legends) – a deficiency I quickly corrected after reading Voodoo Kiss. Luckily, Scott is such a strong writer that this did not matter; this book, like the others, functions well as a stand-alone novel. However, if what happened to me happens to other readers, they will find that they absolutely MUST read the entire series, which includes A Job From Hell (book 1) and Doomed (book 2). Kind of like Girl Scout cookies, you will find you are unable to stop at just one.
Plot: Sofia Romanov is an aspiring musician living in NYC. She has recently faced the untimely and painful death of her younger half-sister, Theo. She is drawn to her wealthy Irish boyfriend Gael through mutual sibling loss: his brother also died within the same time frame. There’s trouble in paradise, however – Sofia doesn’t necessarily feel romantic love toward Gael…more of an enduring friendship. He whisks her off to Brazil before she can make this clear to him, however, and that’s when things get very strange. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but it involves voodoo (hence the title) and here Scott has clearly done her homework. I was enraptured by the clear descriptions: the smells, sights and feel of Rio, the crazy scary hotel, the so-vivid-it-feels-like-it’s-happening-to you language of Sofia’s first ritual. I was quite drawn in by Gael, who walked the double-character line quite well – I was never sure whether to trust him, hate him, feel sorry for him, or be afraid of him. I love characters like that… but the appearance of Thrain, the demon love interest, changed the story quite deftly. Other characters, like a mysterious black crow, and Lucifer, skate in and out of the plot with an agility only a well-experienced and well-read author could produce.
Setting: These books I have been reading lately are causing me to want to travel! After reading for my last review, I wanted to go to Fiji; now I want to go to Brazil and Scotland. I loved the descriptions and sounds of Rio, and I loved the quiet mystery of the Scottish countryside. I also found it interesting how the characters can travel between them using magic, but within this there is still modern technology. For example, one character tracks another by use of an IP address. The physical world most of us live in is thus nicely blended with the paranormal, making it seem like demons, vampires, Shadows and voodoo priestesses could quite possibly walk among us, and we would never know.
Characters: Of course I adored main character Sofia, who despite agony and guilt over her sister’s death is forging forward both toward a music career and toward college. Despite her strengths in the career realm, within relationships she’s uncertain when we first meet her, remaining in one that doesn’t feel right to her. As her powers take root and grow, she becomes more self-aware in what is essentially a psychological journey; she moves through a Maslow-like pyramid of met and unmet needs until she reaches the first step on a rung of self-actualization both within herself and within her relationships (here I do not wish to give too much away, so you will simply have to read the book…which is a favor to yourself). Other characters, particularly Gael, Thrain and Cass, stand out as well-rounded and interesting, and Theo, the lost sister, haunts the pages like the ghost that she might be.
Style: Nicely done in well-written YA language that will appeal to any reader. A perfect autumn book – make yourself a pumpkin latte, sit up near the fire with the leaves falling outside…and before you know it three hours will have passed.
Overall Impression: Five stars. A wonderful lead character, excellent cast of supporting characters, nice romantic tension, and a surprise twist at the end that will make you both laugh and drool for the next book in the series. All I can say is, read it! Read it before fall gives way to winter, for Voodoo Kiss belongs in this season of change, death and renewal.