I am delighted to share my review today for The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings. This is a brilliant read set in New Orleans with a wonderfully magical, musical and dangerous vibe.
I also want to add that the author did include a playlist for Spotify, this was so good to listen to. A mix of Jazz and Blues, some remixes and some that were new to me, and some rather modern ones!
My huge thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my PB copy of the book from the Publisher – Orbit Books
In a fantastical version of New Orleans where music is magic, a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this vibrant and imaginative debut.
Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep the spirit of the city alive. To those from Far Away, Nola might seem strange. To failed magician, Perilous Graves, it’s simply home. Then the rhythm stutters.
Nine songs of power have escaped from the magical piano that maintains the city’s beat and without them, Nola will fail. Unexpectedly, Perry and his sister, Brendy, are tasked with saving the city. But a storm is brewing and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Even if they capture the songs, Nola’s time might be coming to an end.
This is a book that I adored. A mix of urban fantasy, music, family friends and enemies. They are wrapped around songs and music. New Orleans is an area that has a mix of races, nationalities and ethnicities. Each brings its own traditions, religions, faiths, legends and myths. In this book, the author has mixed all of these together to create a slightly weird, oddball, wacky and wonderful story.
Music is magic and magic is music. In this story, it is what makes Nola a special place to live. It keeps the city thriving, in check and safe, that is until a vengeful spirit decides to cause chaos. It will be down to a group of children and some of their relatives to try to work out what is happening to the magic and the songs.
This is a story that I occasionally wondered ‘what on earth is going on!’ as it flitted from one person to another, and from one group to another. Even though I had trouble following where the author was going I found myself sticking with the book. I didn’t once think of putting it down because I wanted to know the outcomes. I am really glad I did because things gradually started to merge, make sense and become more clear. Did I fully understand everything about the story? No, probably not, but that doesn’t take away the entertainment value of the story. I also really enjoyed the music references such as Stagger Lee, Buddy Bolden and songs from the old Jazz and Blues eras. There are also mentions of spirits, haints, dead cabs, and so many different other things.
Essentially this is a story that starts out as a mystery. Jaylon and Daddy Deke have gone missing. Their respective families or friends are trying to find them and discover that not everything is as they think it is. There is another side that is separated by a thin layer. There is a storm coming, one that could be catastrophic unless the main characters can work out exactly what, how and when to do what they need to do.
I do think this is one of those books that may well divide the readers. It is quirky but I do love quirky, and when it is mixed in with urban fantasy, a rich setting and has some good music vibes running through it then it makes it a book that will catch my eye. In fact, it was the cover that did it for me, it made me think of voodoo, magic and death!
This is a fabulous read, I have been wavering between giving it a 4 or a 5 star. Five for the fact that I really enjoyed the style of the story but a four because I did feel a little lost at times.
This is one for those who like adventure, to take a risk and maybe for those looking for something a little bit different. I really enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it.
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