cover image The Voices of Martyrs

The Voices of Martyrs

Maurice Broaddus. Rosarium, $16.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-0-9967692-5-9

This evocative and moving collection from Broaddus (the Knights of Breton Court series) spans the extremes of African and diasporic experiences, from hunting villages and slaver ships to interstellar religious warfare in the near future. The collection moves smoothly among past, present, and future. Broaddus portrays the horrors of slavery and the Jim Crow era unflinchingly, with standout entries such as “Rite of Passage” and “A Soldier’s Story” providing agency to those who have often been denied it. The Jamaican mythology of obeah and a correctional facility known as “the Ave” weave through the present and link into the future. Some stories intersect; the volunteer from “The Volunteer” returns in “Pimp My Airship,” which has a neo-disco vibe that’s strikingly different from the rest of the collection without clashing or being overly disconcerting. The solid emotional core established in the beginning carries through “Cerulean Memories,” which explores grief, and the title story, which delves deeper into how religious belief affects action and interactions. The lush, descriptive prose tantalizes all the senses, drawing the reader into a rich world spanning both miles and centuries. Hints of magic in both the past and present, as well as the science fiction elements of the future stories, make this an exciting exploration of genre as well as culture. (Feb.)