cover image Black Candle Women

Black Candle Women

Diane Marie Brown. Graydon House, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5258-9991-1

Love and death plague four generations of magical Montrose women in Brown’s middling debut. Augusta; her granddaughters, Victoria and Willow; and her great-granddaughter, Nickie, all share the Montrose curse: any person they fall in love with dies. The women have managed to live self-sufficiently in California thanks to Willow’s hoodoo and Victoria’s successful therapy practice. Then, on Nickie’s 17th birthday, she invites a boy home for dinner. Her mother, Victoria, is determined to stop the relationship before it can start and encourages Nickie to focus on her destined gift for helping others. But Nickie, who’s unaware of the curse, instead turns to her aunt, Willow, to learn love spells to keep her crush. As past mistakes and present secrets threaten to break the family, the secret of the curse’s origin—and the only hope of breaking it—lies with Augusta, who is unable to speak after two strokes. Interspersed with flashbacks to 1950s New Orleans, this multiple POV narrative offers a holistic portrayal of voodoo practices, but doesn’t offer as well-rounded a portrait of its heroines, who come off oddly flat. Still, for fans of intergenerational family dramas, this magical twist on the genre will prove refreshing. Agent: Cherise Fisher, Wendy Sherman Assoc. (Mar.)