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author: Kira Saito
series: Arelia LaRue #1
published: 28 October 2011
genre(s): fantasy, gothic, romance
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
Sixteen year old Arelia LaRue lives in New Orleans where the music is loud, voodoo queens inhabit every street corner, and the ghosts are alive and well. Despite her surroundings, all she wants is to help her Grand-mere Bea pay the rent and save up for college.
When her best friend Sabrina convinces her to take a well-paying summer job at the infamous Darkwood plantation, owned by the wealthy LaPlante family, Arelia agrees.
However, at Darkwood strange things start to happen, and gorgeous Lucus LaPlante insists that he needs her help. Soon, the powers that Arelia has been denying all her life, come out to play and she discovers mysteries about herself that she could have never imagined.
I really enjoyed this book, despite the mixed reviews on Amazon. The voodoo mythology behind the story is fresh and unique, a twist on the witchy theme. It had a very real flavor to it, a lot of attention paid to incorporating true voodoo beliefs. Much of the story centers around Arelia and her dealings with the spirits, the ceremonial aspects of asking for and receiving favors very well done. Some of these spirits were clearly of the higher level, while many were simply the spirits of those who have passed.
The various relationships within the story were also dynamic and interesting, even those that were rather unhealthy. The friendship between Sabrina and Arelia, although it annoyed me, was very real. It took a lot for me to harbor anything but negative feelings for Sabrina! Lucas and Arelia were an interesting couple, blowing hot ad cold throughout this first book. The Dumptys, although minor characters, added to the story as well. The parents wre awful, but their son Ben was adorable and the mother in me wanted to take him home and take care of him.
One of the things that I liked about Arelia’s character was the very thing that I have seen denounced in many reviews of this book and series. Her mercurial mood swings throughout this book. From moment to moment, she either believed or didn’t believe in voodoo and her abilities. From moment to moment, she blew hot and cold. In my opinion, this worked. She was brought up to respect, but not embrace voodoo. She came to the plantation and was suddenly immersed in a world she really didn’t understand. It was a lot for her to handle. She blew hot and cold with just about everyone for most of the book, but that, too, worked for me. She knew her grandmother was keeping secrets, Mae wanted things from her, James was constantly in her face, Sabrina was arrogant and dismissive, and she was fighting an attraction to Lucas. Any one of these things is explanation enough. For me, the mood swings supported her struggle to accept voodoo and to find herself.
My only issue was in editing errors. There were quite a few of them. It was extremely distracting. The story was strong enough that it was easier to get past those things. The other thing was the conclusion. I didn’t like where it ended. Even knowing there was a next book, it was a bit awkwardly placed.
Aside from the novel itself, the cover is gorgeous. Dark and mysterious, it fit the storyline and the location. Will I read more of Arelia? Absolutely!