“It’s a death gris-gris, and as its counterpart in the hands of the Voodooienne is unwrapped slowly, day by day, it is supposed to cause the cursed one to sicken and die by degrees."
This started off with so much promise but ultimately didn't deliver on delicious Gothic feel. We started off with a sheltered, innocent heroine who is swept away by a dark scarred hero to his on the edge of the bayou plantation. There we meet his at odds with mother, still wearing black for the death of his years long dead uncle, his maybe jealous vengeful cousin, a possible voodoo using maybe ex-mistress, a creepy overseer, a parental but maybe shady housekeeper, and a paralyzed unable to speak father. The red-herrings are all over the place.
The atmosphere was set nicely with descriptions of the bayou, heat, bugs, and general out in the middle of nowhere. There was a voodoo scene with the slaves performing a ritual that was kind of creepy but other than that, there wasn't enough played around with to make you wonder if the heroine was losing her mind or if the voodoo was real.
The heroine and hero basically spend no time together, which I thought was kind of odd, so you're not reading this for the romance aspect. There wasn't enough creepy, spooky feel for a Gothic either; the mystery has the heroine in bed for most of the book.
Helene, that arrogant, time-ravaged beauty, had been in love with her husband’s brother, so in love that ten years later she could still weep her heart out over a mask of his dead face. Her husband’s brother, a married man with a son, a man who was shot to death in a duel with his nephew, Helene’s one son!
I kind of got the feeling the author was going for a nothing proves more terrifying than family dynamics. I can't really dispute that.
The mystery could have been better if the heroine would have been able to move around more and the characters given more depth, basically this needed a higher page count as the basic storyline and atmospheric writing was there. The ending gave us a villain info-dump as to why and how that gave it super flop feel and red-herring characters simply deflated like balloons. I can't really recommend this one because the Gothic mystery and the romance was severely lacking, maybe if you like your heroines reclining in bed because of bruised ribs and possible poisonings and/or voodoo curses.
*I almost forgot to mention the jaguar! Yes, there is a jaguar that lurks around, two or three mentions but it is there, lol.