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Voodoo Dreams: A Novel of Marie Laveau

(The Marie Laveau Mystery 0)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  914 ratings  ·  91 reviews
The story of Marie Laveau, the character featured on American Horror Story: Coven.

New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century: a potent mix of whites, Creoles, free blacks, and African slaves, a city pulsing with crowds, commerce, and an undercurrent of secret power. The source of this power is the voodoo religion, and its queen is Marie Laveau, the notorious voodooienne, wo
Paperback, 436 pages
Published January 15th 1995 by Picador (first published 1993)
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  914 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Aug 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
Okay, I give up! I really really gave this one a good try. Between two libraries all they had was an unabridged audio book; no printed versions. I've been listening and telling myself it will get better, but it's not happening. Extremely bad writing!

I wanted to read this because I thought it would be interesting to learn something about Marie Laveau and her voodoo legend. I think I'd be better off seeking out a nonfiction account.
Mocha Girl
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
There is a legend that the infamous New Orleans native and Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau never died, that, in fact, her spirit lives on in selected female descendents, each a namesake, and Laveau's faithful are awaiting her return. Jewell Parker Rhodes (Voodoo Dreams, Douglass's Women, Magic City) births a modern day Marie in the second book of the Marie Laveau/Voodoo trilogy, Voodoo Season: a Marie Laveau Mystery.

The novel centers on first year medical resident, Marie Levant, a cum laude graduate
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No One
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
Marie Laveau was a powerful, legendary figure in 19th Century New Orleans--despite being a "woman of color" in that day and age in the South. A fascinating figure, but not a fascinating book, I think because Marie never comes into focus for me or feels convincing. This Marie is too passive, too much a victim whose fate is determined by others, and the story doesn't fit with what I know of Laveau, the daughter of a white planter and free Creole born in the French Quarter who married Jacques Paris ...more
This was the author's first novel and it shows in places. None the less this was well researched and really interesting
Sarah Carter
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
First things first, this is not a horror novel. While it has elements of the supernatural certainly, it is not chills and gore.

What it is, is a superb historical novel (reminding me a lot of the works of Phillipa Gregory). The author has taken what little we know of Marie Laveau and weaved a complex story of belief, womanhood & power. Because I was expecting a darker tale (my bad), it took me a while to really bed down with this book. However it was totally worth it.

I've already got Voodoo
Educating Drew
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, spooky
Voodoo Dreams is the story of Marie Laveau, but it's also the story of Maman Marie, Grandmere, and the Voudon Queen. It is about legacy, fate, and bloodline.

When we first meet Marie, she is the Voodoo Queen and through the strength of Damballah, has murdered John, her baby's father in the midst of a ritual performance in New Orleans. We get the sense that she was held prisoner by his unrelenting desire for power.

When we first meet her, she speaks out that sometimes the beginnings must start from
Oct 24, 2009 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this mystery. It’s a quick read. The momentum of the story picked up after the initial hospital scene. Marie Laveau may be a better detective than a doctor. She has a great gift, but is in denial about it. I love the setting in Southern Louisiana.
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great story! I think this was a wonderful historical novel; and I learned alot about Voodoo. I can't wait to read more from Jewell Parker Rhodes.
Mar 09, 2008 rated it liked it
This book fed nicely into my longtime love affair with New Orleans.
Cathy Douglas
I started this book thinking I was going to love it, but never did finish. I felt the author's modern viewpoint stuffed Marie's. When I read historical fiction, I prefer the illusion of going back in time, not having the author on my back, pointing out the sights over my shoulder.

The book has some things going for it: the subject is fascinating, it has some feel for voodoo, and it's not bad at all for a first novel. I have a feeling this is an author who will age well.
Feb 28, 2010 rated it liked it
I listened to this on audio and it was interesting but as it was a novel I'm not sure how much was based on fact. I think I would like to read a book on Marie Laveau that is more non fiction.
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cried uncontrollably.
Kathleen Valentine
Aug 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes has a distinguished background. She is the Artistic Director for Global Engagement and the Piper Endowed Chair of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. As an African-American woman of considerable accomplishment her perspective on Marie Laveau is considerably different from that of Francine Prose but both are equally fascinating. Rhodes' Marie Laveau is very much a woman of her times, a free black woman raised by a grandmother who ...more
Jan 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jen
Shelves: 400-500pgs, horror
This novel by Jewell Parker Rhodes is another excellent snapshot of life in New Orleans. This book takes place before the Civil War and paints a vivid picture of the city at that time. Voodoo Dreams is a coming-of-age story wrapped up in spicy Creole Louisiana, slavery, and - of course - voodoo. It's also a self-awakening story as Marie tries to find out who she is and what her purpose in life is - which is something all of us can relate to.

I cannot stress enough what a gifted storyteller Jewell
Ingrid Jennings
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Today I finished reading Voodoo Dreams: A Marie Laveau Novel by Jewell Parker Rhodes. It was her first novel. Her writing is very poetic. She use a lot of description and details, as I read Voodoo Dreams, I traveled to the 1800’s and walked down the streets of New Orleans. I visited one of Marie’s rituals and was able to see the sadness and frustration in her heart. I watched her become possessed by Damballah and drop to the floor slithering like a snake. I listened to the drum man and let the m ...more
Jeri Lane
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book...but it was hard to get through and took me forever. I couldn't at all identify with the characters. Probably because i'm a middle aged white woman in the year 2012, but still, there should be some humanity to the characters everyone can relate to. You will not find this here. It was pretty graphic sexually and violently. The author made the book hard to read simply because the chapters all felt the same. It was redundant and sad. I wanted to feel something for Marie ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Does not have reread value for me, but I think it is a must read. New Orleans is historically romanticized as a wonderful carnival, but that is not the case. It has a dark and complex history revolving around slave culture that the author portrays. I called the book sexually perverse, but even the bad guys are victims of the institution. Throw in the loss of culture and religion for imported slaves and the unfortunate relationships of the women of the Laveau family. Many readers will not like th ...more
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
I love books about Voodoo and other traditions of folk magic. This book was a decent attempt to fill in the gaps of the history of Marie Laveau the Elder, legendary queen of Voodoo. Like any work of historical fiction, it has its moments of extreme prejudice. Marie and Doctor may have been friends/ lovers/ colleagues/ adversaries. It is easy to romanticize the past, especially New Orleans in the 1800s. Nonetheless, it was obvious that JPR did her research. I had this nagging feeling, though, tha ...more
Jul 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I wish there was a "2.5 stars" option. I am fascinated with New Orleans and am very interested in its rich history, including Voodoo. I thought that this book would feed that interest, especially with Marie Laveau starring, right? Wrong. It was a read, and that is it. It had its moments, but probably not enough to win it that half of a star to let people know that I liked it instead of thinking it was just "ok." I'm going to go ahead and read the second installment, Voodoo Season to see if it is ...more
Miranda Heath
Dec 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yvonne Loveday
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
This one was a page turner, but I think it just barely makes its classification as historical fiction. Four or five of the six main characters didn't exist. One did, but has no historical connection to Marie Laveau. I don't know enough about the genre to know if that is unusual. But there was a Marie and Voudou and 19-century New Orleans--all of which made for a very compelling story. It was hard to put down at times. Next I'm reading a nonfiction about Marie Laveau to put it into perspective.
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Historical drama lovers
This book was not what I expected, so perhaps I am being harsh in giving it 3 stars (If I could I would rate it 3.5 stars.) I was expecting a book that explained more about the voodoo religion and the strong woman who is still remembered today. This was more of a social timepiece about slavery and misogyne. I thought it was well written and about 3/4 of the way through I actually became interested in the story and stayed up late to finish it. I will not be reading the second book in the series h ...more
Tami Montano
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I felt an instant connection with this story as I first started in reading. The characters were so tangible and real to me as a reader. I felt what the character struggled with in the story with redemption and trying to find her true self. I love the setting of New Orleans and setting made the story that much more dramatic. Jewell Parker Rhodes is a conjurer of a good tales, I loved Hurricane as well. She certainly can weave a reader into her stories. I look forward to reading more from this aut ...more
Pudds Downing
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Wow. Who knew there were so many really revolting ways to describe sex? This could have been a very interesting book if the author had figured out that there are other words in the English language than "cock". It's unfortunate that she is, apparently, so lacking in confidence in her writing ability that she had to fall back on the old ploy of filling pages with vulgar scenes. Because when she finally got around to simply telling the story it was quite well written and intriguing.
Juliette Morris Williams
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a well-researched fiction account of Marie Laveau's life. Some of the characters really grated on my nerves, however, but something I really loved about the writing was how it made me *feel* the hot, swampy power in the communities frequented by vodouisants. The language was beautifully expressed.

This is a good summer read, especially on a hot summer night, along with a little rum to drink. :)
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting historical novel. Not the voodoo nonsense you might imagine from the title, but a fictionalized biography of a reluctant voodoo queen of the 19th century. Perspective on slavery & free blacks in New Orleans, white noblesse oblige, and a great portrayal of a business person who will stop at nothing to achieve a dream. There is corruption and redemption. A fascinating look at a time, place and society I never thought to examine.
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers
Recommended to Claudia by: Jade
One of my former students came into the room as I was finishing Rhodes's fictional biography of Marie Laveau, VooDoo Queen of New Orleans. When he saw the tears on my face, at first he was alarmed; then he remembered. I cry. Jewell Parker Rhodes has combined the atmosphere of my favorite city in the US with a story of strong women whose heritage reaches back to Africa. Another student read this first and recommended it.
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, pagan
I can't really say I enjoyed this novel, well written though it was. Even though in the end Marie Laveau (view spoiler), I still didn't understand why the author chose to take one of the most powerful witchy figures in American history and portray her as primarily a victim. Also, there was a lot of violence, including domestic and sexual violence in this book - relevant but not enjoyable.
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and readable. I was looking for a story that emphasized the spiritual side of Voodoo rather than the spooky, zombie-raising stuff that most people associate with it. This book, while probably more fiction than fact, provided an entertaining look at the legendary Marie Laveau and the nature of the religion that she helped to sustain.
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, wtf
Solid 3.75. Another glimpse into the ugly later 1800's in NO. Voodoo, Catholic,abuse,rape,sex, love, and slavery are woven tightly in the LONG yet interesting book. Characters are developed however not sure if I want to read another Marie lineage saga for more of sadness, mistreatment and lost powerful women.
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Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child. She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, for African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She wrote six novels for adult ...more

Other books in the series

The Marie Laveau Mystery (3 books)
  • Voodoo Season
  • Moon (Marie Laveau Mystery #2)
  • Hurricane
“Women hand sight down through the generations. Mother to daughter.” 8 likes
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