Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Critics Speak on the New Orleans Voodoo Handbook

Kirkus Reviews has weighed in with their opinion, calling it a "winning blend of urban and religious history from famed New Orleans Vodou priest Filan" and stating
Filan includes everything the novice priest or priestess could want to know. From famous figures like Dr. John and Marie Laveau to the use of candles, oils, prayers and poppets (voodoo dolls), the author outlines the tenets of this spiritual practice with clarity, and his starter set of tools, accompanied by instructions on how to use them, is only limited by readers’ imaginations.
Meanwhile, Brother Ash at Crossroads of Sorcery says "With the “New Orleans Voodoo Handbook” Kenaz Filan gives readers a guide not only to Voodoo as it is practiced in the city, but also the culture and history that has shaped it," but cautions that "Someone looking for a simple cookbook of spells and formulas will be sorely disappointed."

Br. Ash is obviously a two-headed rootworker: as if on cue, we have a pair of one-star reviews on Amazon which state "Voodoo is vibrant and flourishing in New Orleans,but you won't find that out here.This is "Voodoo Lite" from an author who specializes in it" and call The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook the "[w]orst book on Voodoo instruction ever."

(I can sympathize somewhat with the critics.  I definitely was more interested in talking about New Orleans culture than in writing a spell-book.  New Orleans Voodoo and Haitian Vodou are both intimately tied to place and history: if you don't understand the backstory, you'll never figure out what's going on.   And while I found the story of New Orleans endlessly fascinating - and far more entertaining than many of the old clichés and legends - I can see where it might seem a distraction to someone who just wants to become a Voodoo Queen in 10 easy lessons). 

Whatever else happens, within its first month of release The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook is already shaping up to be my most talked-about and most controversial book yet.