Title: Bones (Gothika: Volume Two)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 260 Pages
Overall Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Vodou. Obeah. Santeria. These religions seem mysterious and dark to the uninitiated, but the truth is often very different. Still, while they hold the potential for great power, they can be dangerous to those who don’t take appropriate precautions. Interfering with the spirits is best left to those who know what they’re doing, for when the proper respect isn’t shown, trouble can follow. In these four novellas, steamy nights of possession and exotic ritual will trigger forbidden passion and love. You cannot hide your desires from the loa, or from the maddening spell of the drums. Four acclaimed m/m authors imagine homoerotic love under the spell of Voodoo.
Review: The Dance by Kim Fielding
In the first story, The Dance by Kim Fielding we are given a down and dirty voodoo who’s who. This first tale introduced the basics of voodoo beliefs that included the idea that we have two spirits, one that hopefully goes to heaven and the other that can remain behind to cause havoc. Bram is being chased by a spirit that is trying to kill him and needs help. But when the brother of the man who has attempted to take his life shows up on his doorstep, spouting nonsense about evil spirits, Bram is far from receptive. However, after another attempt is made on his life, Daniel believes and offers of help sway Bram into giving a voodoo intervention a try.
Kim Fielding sets the stage for a four-story anthology around the theme of voodoo. While I understood her need to introduce some of the basic concepts concerning the religion, I found the story to be really disjointed and a bit hard to follow. Because we are launched into the middle of the tale and given the background information about Bram, and his former life and lover after considerable action has taken place, I felt the story lost some of its continuity as a result. I found myself a bit bogged down by all the terminology and beliefs that were thrown at the reader in the first few chapters, and wished that the story could be longer and more fully fleshed out plot-wise so that I could get the ideas behind voodoo a bit more slowly and thus, be able to digest them more easily.
All in all, The Dance was too much information and too little plot for me to capture the story and believe in the characters and their instant attraction to each other. I have read other works by this author and know her to be an excellent writer, but this story was just a bit over the top for me. Rating: 2.5 stars
The Bird by Eli Easton
Set in the Jamaican Islands, this historical tale finds a repressed Englishman trying to revive his father’s sugar cane plantation so he can return home to the sweet young thing that will provide heirs, if little more. Colin has always locked down the emotional pull he has felt for his close friend Richard. Now, on the islands he feels the pull of the drums in the night, signaling the gathering of those who practice voodoo.
Upon discovering one of the native women praying at a makeshift altar for healing for her daughter, Colin intervenes and brings in a physician who nurses the girl back to health. In gratitude, the woman, Tiyah, offers to have her spirit guide grant him one desire—emotional freedom. In a strange ritual, Colin is freed from his reservations and finds himself overwhelmed with lusting thoughts about men; specifically, Richard.
Richard is on his way to the islands, and Colin fears that the man might not reciprocate the fierce desires he has for him. In the heat of the moment, he insists Tiyah reverse the gift—after all, no emotion would be better than the uncontrollable passion he is feeling. The real question is, can Colin go through with the ritual to end his rising emotions or not?
I really enjoyed many aspects of this short story. Here was a clear picture of the methods of island voodoo with a crisp, tightly woven tale of one man who is swept up in the fever of the religion. The historical aspect that allowed for Colin’s repressed sexuality was handled well. While these two could not pursue a relationship in England, they could on the island, where neighbors would not look askance at two bachelors running a plantation. Author Eli Easton made Colin more realistic by exposing his inner war with himself. The idea that even he felt his own needs to be perverted or unnatural leant an air of authenticity about the era this author was writing in. All in all this was a strong story until the epilogue. I must admit I didn’t exactly understand the significance of what took place in those final pages, and was frustrated by what seemed like a scene tacked on in order to leave a bit of mystery as to the future of Colin and Richard and their love for each other. Rating: 4 stars
The Book Of St. Cyprian by Jaime Fessenden
What if you stumbled upon a book so evil, so dark, that to merely open it held the possibility of unleashing a terrifying force? While going through his grandfather’s things, Alejandro finds just such a book, and without thinking too long or questioning his motives too closely, he has it shipped back to his childhood friend, Matthew. Both boys have worked with things having to do with the spirit world before while helping Alejandro’s abuelita in her shop. But nothing could prepare them for the thing that lurked inside the book of St. Cyprian, the demon spirit that was about to get loose.
By far one of my favorites of this anthology, author Jamie Fessenden weaves a cautionary tale about being careful what you set your heart after. Two teenage boys feature in this short story, and the fact that they are both in love with the other, but reluctant to be more than best friends, only serves to heighten the sense of tension in the plot line. When the spirit is released from the old text and takes over one of the characters in the novel, both boys are on the run for a way to lure the spirit back. But what to do with it once it is free again? Now that is something neither boy really thinks through, and it is the wise grandmother who ends up saving the day.
I enjoyed the building sense of fear and urgency in this novella. The boys were so sweet, naïve and yet mature, a wonderful mix of teenage boy and maturing young men. This was a solid story from beginning to end, and I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter! Rating: 5 stars
Uninvited by B.G. Thomas
A simple reporter draws a lucky card when a detective friend calls him for an exclusive scoop—someone is killing people and removing their hearts. Is it voodoo? Or is this something more? B.G. Thomas gives us a wild tale of possession and mayhem and warns us that fame is not always a wise thing to seek in his story, Uninvited.
Taylor has always reported human-interest stories, and he is looking for more excitement, a bigger story he can sink his journalistic teeth into. When he is given the chance to score a major story he dives in, only to discover there is much more than meets the eyes when it comes to murder. When he encounters the beautiful Myles, he also realizes that religion is more than a series of empty beliefs, and Myles embraces his voodou with passion. But can Taylor really shrug off years of skepticism and understand the real core of this mystical religion called voodou?
I am a real fan of this author, but this story was just a bit too disjointed for me. Again, we are given great details about the voodou religion, and sometimes I found it just too confusing to read. Also, the story spent a great deal of time giving us a glimpse into Taylor’s life, his friends, and his way of thinking about religion, but very little was offered up about Myles, except when he spoke of his belief in voodou. All in all, I felt there was too little story here, and the abrupt ending—that was a bit bizarre—really ending up frustrating me. At one point Myles mentions that he should stop telling Taylor about his religion—that he was not to make a pitch that would draw others to the religion of voodou. To believe was an individual journey and, as such, one should be called to it. By story’s end, I realized that this is partially what was happening. Either knowingly or unknowingly, the author was making a pitch for alternative religions, and it tended to overwhelm the plot and the murder mystery aspect of the story. Rating: 3 stars
You can buy Bones (Gothika: Volume Two) here: