THE SOUND OF BUILDING COFFINS
By: Louis Maistros
The Toby Press LLC / PO Box 8531 / New Millford, CT 06676-8531
First Printing: 2009
ISBN: 978 1 59264 255 7
Concept: “It is 1891 in New Orleans, and young Typhus Morningstar cycles under the light of the half moon to fulfill his calling, rebirthing aborted fetuses in the fecund waters of the Mississippi River. He cannot know that nearby, events are unfolding that will change his life forever – events that were set in motion by a Vodou curse gone wrong, forty years before he was born.
In the humble home of Sicilian immigrants, a one year old boy has been possessed by a demon. His father dead, lynched by a mob, his distraught mother at her wits’ end, this baby who yesterday could only crawl and gurgle is now walking, dancing, and talking – in a voice impossibly deep. The doctor has fled, and several men of the cloth have come and gone, including Typhus’ father, warned off directly by the clear voice of his Savior. A newspaper man, shamed by the part he played in inciting the lynch mob that cost this boy his father, appalled by what he sees, goes in search of help.
Seven will be persuaded, will try to help…and all seven will be profoundly affected y what takes place in that one room house that dark night. Not all will leave alive, and all will be irrevocably changed by this demonic struggle, and by the sound of the first notes blown of a new musical form: jazz.
Vivid and complex, meticulously drawn in lyrical prose, this tale of death and rebirth, devastation and redemption, will draw you into a world of beauty and pain, as alluring as it is dangerous, Louis Maistros has captures the essence of New Orleans, and set it free on these pages to work its magic on us all.
Review: I don’t know if I can adequately review this book. It was one of the most unique books I’ve ever read and after reading other reviewers, it seems we all agree on that point. I sort of went from the fryer into the frying pan with this book. The last book I read, March, was also historical fiction and I swore I wouldn't read another one. But here it is and I did.
The book starts out in the late 1800’s with some extremely exotic characters. Rev. Noonday Morningstar has named his children after diseases and we meet Typhus, Malaria, Cholera, Diphtheria and Dropsy as well as other memorable characters as Marcus Nobody Special and even the boogeyman. It’s hard though, for instance, as the concept above points out that Typhus is giving aborted fetuses back to the Mississippi. Its rather a hard scene to imagine. But for some reason that I can’t quite explain, you can’t put it down. I found myself wondering where the whole thing was going and then at other points, just really enjoying the stories that the author told. This isn’t a bad book, it has received amazing reviews, I think it’s just a little too complex for my tastes. It so well written though that if you are considering this book at all, I hope you will consider other reviewers’ opinions to help your decision. If you DO decide to read it, check out the author's blog for a really cool "pictorial" of his characters. Its a really fun reader's guide sort of thing. Here.
What I liked: This author was not formally educated and you would not ever guess that from reading this book. The characters are so real, you really get involved with them and start hungering for more information. I loved the history in the book even though a big on the magical side (as the book promised) so you cannot take away from that at all.
What I disliked: It was very difficult for me to keep in focus what the story was about. It seemed, at times, like a bunch of separate stories which it was but it was hard to understand the connection. It dragged at some points. The story was hard and sometimes seemed to shock just for shock value.
My rating: 3 SOLID stars.
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