Bones is a collection of tales exploring the world of vodou, Obeah, and Santeria. All religions that are closely linked, but different in their own way. Herein lies stories that will show you ways of thinking that most people don’t even consider. I really liked this anthology, and found myself enjoying each story. It was a great collection of four stories, individual and unique, yet all tied together. Spirits are out there, and they usually want to help. As long as you pay them the right tribute.
The Dance by Kim Fielding
Rating: 4.5 stars
Bram Tillman has had a really bad year. His lover died in an accident, and since then, he’s been almost killed twice. He’s restless and unsettled. And when Daniel Royer shows up at his door, he’s angry and scared. But Daniel imparts a message that Bram can’t stop thinking about: someone is trying to kill Bram and if he doesn’t seek help, he will die.
Bram dismisses the idea completely because he doesn’t believe in vodou, and that’s what Daniel is talking about. That is, until, there is a third attempt on his life. Convinced that something real is going on, Bram meets with Daniel. As Daniel explains the beliefs of vodou, Bram begins to believe that what Daniel says is the truth. Together, they embark on a journey to find out exactly who is trying to kill Bram and why, and hopefully put a stop to it.
There were a couple of things that I absolutely loved about this story. Both characters were incredibly well fleshed out and we got a really good sense of them. I enjoyed Bram immensely. He’s a scientist, but he readily accepted the vodou religion and what was going on, because there was no denying the facts. Daniel is just a sweetheart and I liked his quiet confidence. I also really appreciated that all the information given to us was within the confines of the plot, and it never felt like an info dump. The practices were well described, and I had no trouble putting myself within the scenes.
I really enjoyed these two guys together, even if it felt just a tad convenient. They definitely move quickly once they get the problem sorted out. Ultimately, though, they were sweet and perfect for one another and their chemistry just leapt off the page. I do have to make mention of one scene that seems like dubcon. Bram pulls back before it goes too far, but as both men aren’t in complete control of their selves, it does have an edge of the feeling to it.
This was a great story, and a fantastic way to start off the anthology.
The Bird by Eli Easton
Rating: 4.25 stars
In 1870, Colin Hastings leaves England for his father’s sugarcane plantation in Jamaica. His goal is to turn the plantation around and make it profitable so that he can return home to England and marry his intended, Elizabeth. He’s only there for a short while when he witnesses one of his laborers, Tiyah, offering gifts to her loa. Fascinated by the Obeah ritual, Colin watches and is discovered. Tiyah tells him that her daughter is very sick with a fever and she is asking for help. The thought of the young girl being so sick and on death’s door pulls at Colin’s heartstrings and he sends for the doctor, taking the girl into his home until she is well.
Tiyah is grateful and convinces Colin to participate in a ceremony where her loa, Ezrulie, will grant him a passionate life. The ceremony is strange and frightening, but when it’s over, Colin is consumed with passion and ends up admitting to himself that he is in love and wants his best friend Richard. Though they have been corresponding regularly, he has not seen his friend recently. When lack of correspondence brings Richard to Jamaica, can Colin finally admit and act on his feelings? And does Richard really feel the same?
This was a well-crafted historical tale. I found myself drawn into the world that Easton painted, feeling like I was right there in the middle of the scene. Colin is very proper, very English, and at first there’s very little indication he’s anything but. But as the plot progresses, we see the layers to this guy that really made him feel real. I liked the way everything we saw was colored by his perception.
As far as Colin and Richard go, I could think of no better pairing then these two gentleman. From the very beginning, though Colin is repressing his feelings very hard, I wanted nothing more than to see how they would find their way together. And to have that moment happen was incredibly satisfying to me. This story was really well done from beginning to end.
The Book of St. Cyprian by Jamie Fessenden
Rating: 4.5 stars
When going through an old shop, Alejandro finds the famed Book of St. Cyprian. It has dark legend attached to it; they say even to touch it will invoke its curse. Alejandro knows his Abuela, who practices Santeria and runs a botanica, would never allow it into the house. Instead, he ships it home to his best friend Matthew for safe keeping until he can get there himself. What neither man counts on is Matthew’s dog destroying the package it came in and releasing the spirit bound to the book.
The spirit needs a host, and since Matthew has faint magical protection, the spirit possesses the dog. Alejandro and Matthew try to drive it out themselves, but eventually they have to call in reinforcements. Abuela can do what the young men have failed to, and the trying time just might bring the two friends closer than either one imagined.
I really liked this story. At first, I was a tiny bit lost as it thrust us into the action seemingly mid scene, and it took me a few pages to really get my bearing. But as the author filled in the blanks and fleshed out the story, I found myself falling into the world of Santeria, possessive spirits, and feeling for the poor dog. Matthew and Alejandro are young, naïve, and attracted to each other. But neither thinks the other is interested in him. I really loved their relationship, first as friends and the way the treated each other, and then the sweet way they moved into deeper territory. The story was really well done, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Uninvited by B.G. Thomas
Rating: 4.75 stars
Taylor Dunton is a reporter, and, after receiving a tip from a cop who is his friend, goes to a murder scene. He’s appalled by what he sees. It’s not just murder, but it is clearly a sacrifice. The more he digs into the clues, the more he realizes that vodou might be involved. While tracking down information, he meets Myles Parry, the proprietor of a vodou shop. Myles practices vodou and gives Taylor more information that he needs, but the two men are also attracted to each other.
The murderer strikes again, and then a third time. Each time, the clues point toward vodou. Except that those who practice vodou and really believe in it don’t make human sacrifices. As Taylor and Miles grow closer, Taylor begins to believe that vodou is real. And when the lwa spirits start noticing Taylor, things get even stranger. In the end, though, vodou just might save Taylor’s life.
Wow. This story had it all. It was gruesome, emotional, funny, and sweet. Taylor sucked me into his story from the very beginning. I loved his perspective on the world, and his narrative was charming and engaging. Being in his head was a treat. It flowed really well, and even the more grisly bits of this story were made more palpable colored by Taylor’s POV.
I loved the way the romance progressed right along with the mystery/murder storyline. There were no wasted scenes here. Each one moved the plot along and brought us closer to the conclusion. I thought Thomas did an excellent job giving us exactly the information we needed, exactly when we needed it. I loved this story, and it was probably my favorite of the bunch. A fantastic way to bring the anthology to a close.
All in all, I have to say, if this sort of thing interests you even in the slightest bit, definitely pick this anthology up. You won’t be disappointed.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.