What is a ghost except a longing that will not die or a love that has yet to be born?
All the women in Anora Madison's family have lived haunted by the curse of Poor Butterfly: women still longing for but deserted by the men they loved. Determined to be the first to escape a life of abandonment, Anora fled Harlem for Brooklyn, not only severing her ties with her mother Angela, but also ending her relationship with Winston Emerson, her lover and the father of her child.
Six years later, Anora comes home to make peace, but an unseen force manifests itself during the homecoming and targets not only Anora, but her little girl Cammie.
With nowhere to run, Anora must confront the evil now trying to destroy her life. She vows to protect her daughter at all costs, but if that protection can only be found with Winston back in her life, how will Anora protect her heart?
Winston's offer to help resurrects the ghost of heartbreak which haunts Anora still. Can fighting one ghost free her from another? Does she want it to?
Haunted Serenade I received an ARC in exchange for a fair review.
I love a ghost story. That said, this book is haunting and not because of the ghost. Though based in the past, it’s certainly a book for these troubled times. It reminds me of a verse from Ecclesiastes, There’s nothing new under the sun. It’s the early 1960s—a time of great upheaval in U.S. history. Mirror images of today’s civil strife against hate and racism are as appalling. And it’s at this time we’re plunged into a family torn apart by the issues of color and unforgiveness. After a bombing, which took the lives of three children in the south, the main character, Anora, despite the family schism, takes her six-year-old daughter to see her grandmother for the first time. When Anora began a relationship with a dark-skinned man, both she and her mother shared horrid words, and the hurt to both goes deep and long. Anora left home. Realizing time is short, and so much is at stake, Anora’s mother calls her home to the family house in Harlem. The bitterness between the people in the house feeds a spirit who has the ability to harm them. The characters are relatable, the world-building grounding, and the ghost story enthralling. It is a poignant tale of the importance of choosing words carefully and seeking forgiveness before it’s too late. Some scenes can be disturbing though not graphic more the idea of what people are capable of—both to the good and the evil. I highly recommend this book by Ms. Taylor.
I was drawn in from the first word. I couldn't put the book down. I just had to know what was behind this haunting or was it a haunting at all. It was my first time reading this author and it won't be the last.
The haunting in this story is one of pain, lost and then eventually forgivness. Anora has returned home with her darker skinned daughter to see her mother. Anora's mothers and her mothers sisters have always been able to pass for white. Their damn near white skin never did make them the prize though. Returning to her mothers house isn't something that Anora wants to do but keeping her daughter from her grandmother isn't something she is no longer intrested in. You see Anora has her own ghosts to fight. A severed relationship isn't just with her mother but also her daughters father who Anora later admits that even though she loves him, she did start out to being with him because of his darker skin...to spite her mother. As the ghost of regret and unforgivness takes over house #13, it's now up to Anora and Winston to put the ghosts to rest.
Oh, this was good! The truth bombs Anora and Winston were dropping here had me sitting up several times while reading (read my highlighted notes). Anora never wanted to be like her mother and pass but she knew men desired her for her lighter skin. Even though she and Winston loved one another, they eventually admit that their skin preference for one another is what bought them together and broke them apart. Winston admitting that having a darker skinned daughter made him love himself...chile!
The haunting part of Haunted Serenda wasn't so much creepy as it was forcing the habitates of house #13 face their demons. Anora's aunt Diane is the driving force. But I feel like her spirit was trying to help and "haunt".
This was good and the gothic vibes were on point too. This author is telling more than just a story of a family being haunted. The reasons: race, class, betrayal & self hatred were heavy on page and adding more to its story. Highly recommended reading.
From the first drop in room temperature at Number Thirteen in Harlem, I felt delightful chills and excited anticipation. I was eager to learn more about the mysterious spirit pervading the house and what that spirit wants from this particular family. Ms. Taylor does not disappoint. This is a fabulous ghost story, and it is also so much more: set against a backdrop of the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, which propels the action, this is a story about sisters, mothers and daughters, fear and forgiveness, and a second chance at love for two people who finally realize they are meant to be together. Beautifully crafted, this story satisfies on so many levels and will be one I look forward to rereading. I am eagerly looking forward to the next book in Ms. Taylor’s Haunted Harlem series.
Haunted Serenade by Anna M. Taylor has the creepy tone a reader hopes for in a Halloween tale. This story told in a first-person narrative works well because Anora, the speaker, recognizes her part in the family’s difficulties. Anora is a single parent. She takes her daughter to visit her mother’s house, fully committed to remaining estranged from her mother. Besides the standard haunting themes of cold and banging doors and suicide, Taylor introduces the women’s shared history of being abandoned by the men they love. The women also struggle as light-skinned blacks with their identities. Their personal decisions to pass as white or live as black has driven them apart. Taylor has woven multiple themes into the story to produce a haunting tale.
This is a beautifully written story rooted in the lesson of self-love, the importance of familial love, and forgiveness. The minute I read the first sentence, I knew I wouldn't put it down until I got to the end. I look forward to the next book in the series.