There is someone taking the remains of children out of St. Louis cemetery, and Pascal “Pax” Moreau is dragged into finding out why. Pax is an aspiring hoodoo Doctor who’s got tricks up his sleeve and a mojo in his pocket.
Being the mixed-race child from a left handed marriage left him between two worlds, both filled with magic. French witchcraft and creole root work are common in his city. When it appears old French magic and a special codex are behind the body snatching, Pax becomes more invested in his task of finding the culprit. If only to gain some knowledge and power of his own. Too bad that means he has to work with the De Lancre’s, an old French family who has plenty of spell books but no magical talent. Well maybe there is some hope for Jean De Lancre, a young man who catches Pax’s eye. The two work together to retrieve the codex, and learn more about each other, and the worlds they occupy. Both find themselves on the outskirts of society, unable to fit into the neat little boundaries that 19th century society has constructed. But then New Orleans has always been a magical city full of peculiar people, and they tend to find each other.
I was only five pages in to Root Work before it became a chore to read this book rather than a pleasure, but I struggled in hopes of finding something redeemable. While voodoo is an interesting and under-explored facet of both religion and magic within the paranormal romance genre, this book and all its potential are not worth the time or the struggle it takes to read them. In my opinion, this book is not ready for publishing based purely on the author’s technical writing skill and comfort with the English language. At a little less than 30%, I simply gave up. There was no pleasure in struggling through this book.
In a self-published book, I have come to expect the occasional error. A typo, a missing comma, a hanging quotation mark. However, in this book there are at least two errors per page, oftentimes half a dozen or more, which made reading the book like a word search of mistakes. I found it extremely hard to focus on the plot or the characters because the writing was just so… I hate to say it, but bad. It has odd phrasing, bad phrasing, and confusing or incorrect word choices, such as a “hundred tombs lining a wall” instead of “tomes,” which did not conjure an image of leatherbound books as much as a great many small sepulchures.
There are numerous homophones as well as erroneous and downright perplexing word choices (“where” instead of “were,” “distance” instead of “distant,” and “stubles” instead of “stumbles,” as well as things like “non-the less” or “now a day”). Names sometimes have one spelling, then another (Kongo Street, Congos Street, and Congo Street) and I’m uncertain which is supposed to be correct. Sentences end strangely and abruptly, and sentences with dialogue almost always end with a period leaving people to speak their peace and then randomly act or muse or burst into laughter.
“[Y]ou don’t know who you’re messing with.” Pax threatened.
Some of this can be explained by the fact that English is not the author’s native language, but it doesn’t excuse it. The book needs an editor more knowledgeable than spellcheck, someone who can correct the many, many mistakes such as “the steps where refrained” instead of “the steps were restrained.” There are tense changes here and there — though not as many of those as there are grammar and vocabulary issues, just enough to notice — and vocative commas missing left, right, and center. Commas seem to simply be blindly thrown at the text as they are either missing completely from sentences, or breaking up a short sentence into two or three even smaller phrases.
There are some passages where, if you can look past the many, many writing issues plaguing this book, you can find imagination and the hint of a story, but those moments are so overshadowed and beaten down by all of the technical mistakes and confusion caused by incorrect word choices that they all but vanish. The characterization is clumsy and problematically stereotypical, with the angry, dark-skinned man and the white skinned, blue-eyed innocent who just so happens to be the only white man who treats his slaves and the slaves of others like people. It’s a little too much “white savior” for my liking, but part of that, again, could be due to the cultural differences of someone not born and raised in America where certain tropes about, and the tensions between, different races just aren’t completely understood.
This is book one of a proposed series, but if the writing level and lack of editing remains the same, I will decline to read any of this author’s other works and urge you do the same.