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The Quarter Storm

The Quarter Storm By Veronica Henry Summary

The Quarter Storm: A Novel (Mambo Reina) A practitioner of Vodou must test the boundaries of her powers to solve a ritual murder in New Orleans and protect everything she holds sacred.

Haitian-American Vodou priestess Mambo Reina Dumond runs a healing practice from her New Orleans home. Gifted with water magic since she was a child, Reina is devoted to the benevolent traditions of her ancestors.

After a ritual slaying in the French Quarter, police arrest a fellow vodouisant. Detective Roman Frost, Reina’s ex-boyfriend―a fierce nonbeliever―is eager to tie the crime, and half a dozen others, to the Vodou practitioners of New Orleans. Reina resolves to find the real killer and defend the Vodou practice and customs, but the motives behind the murder are deeper and darker than she imagines.

As Reina delves into the city’s shadows, she untangles more than just the truth behind a devious crime. It’s a conspiracy. As a killer wields dangerous magic to thwart Reina’s investigation, she must tap into the strength of her own power and faith to solve a mystery that threatens to destroy her entire way of life.

About the Author

Veronica Henry was born in Brooklyn, New York, and has been a bit of a rolling stone ever since. Her work has appeared in various online publications. She is a graduate of the Viable Paradise Workshop and a member of SFWA.

Veronica is proud to be of Sierra Leonean ancestry and counts her trip home as the most important of her life. She now writes from North Carolina, where she eschews rollerballs for fountain pens and fine paper. Other untreated addictions include chocolate and cupcakes. 

The Quarter Storm By Veronica Henry Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The mind could conjure all kinds of fanciful scenarios to assuage the guilt of a poor choice of last words. In my favored delusion, my mother and I were chatting it up while she window-shopped at Oakwood Center over in Terrytown. That place was for her what my backyard peristil was to me: a sanctuary. Had Bondye been merciful, the background noise of bustling shoppers would have spared her, my vitriol quieted to a few sharp words uttered under my breath. But God wasn’t always available to answer a servant’s whims. In the end, the hurricane swallowed the apology I’d held off delivering until the next day and took a sizable chunk of the city with it.

Papa had once again been the stubborn root of what I hadn’t known at the time would be our final conflict. He’d always sat wedged between us like a parapet in a grisly, decades-long conflict. My father’s singular focus was that his daughter continue the unbroken line of Vodou priests and priestesses dating back to Benin. Manman wanted a different life for me. Though she lost in the end, their fights on the matter were a thing of legend.

And now the only thing I had left of her was a fragment of a text message that I had saved on a phone long since inoperable. Three cryptic letters that taunted me whenever I closed my eyes: N O P.

I found lost things for people all the time. Misplaced keys, money buried in backyard graves, a pet that had run off in search of a happier home. Even helped the police find my stolen car once. The water-gazing bowl’s magic always uncovered many secrets. But I hadn’t dared to look into those waters in service to myself in a long time. Their stubborn silence both judgment and sentence. Longing, though rarer those last few years, sometimes overwhelmed my efforts at self-preservation.

It was time to try again.

The altar to my patron, Erzulie, sat on a small table in a corner of the living room facing the front door. Both warning and welcome to all who entered. I lit the candles: fat round yellows, tall skinny reds and purples, a profusion of colorful strings of beads interwoven between them all.

The small space was completed with an image of Erzulie’s vèvè: an intricately sketched heart filled with stars and curlicues sprouting from the tips and corners. With no expendable cash for luxuries, a spritz of my homemade concoction served as a perfume offering.

The water-gazing bowl, unused but for this purpose, rested at the center of a low table atop a white tablecloth. A thumbprint on the plain sterling-silver rim caught my attention. It was stalling, but I whipped out a purified cloth and polished away the imperfection.

A flutter of anxiety stilled my hands.

When I saw myself reflected in the gleam, I knelt, planting my knees atop the golden cushion.

The dubious muck that came out of your typical New Orleans faucet had never touched this bowl unaltered. The version I now splashed in had been boiled three times, run through a sieve, and blessed with the words of my religion. My heart swelled with hope and constricted with the disappointment of so many failed attempts. I knew better than to put myself through this again. But what kind of daughter gave up on her mother?

I lowered my head, clasped my hands together, and whispered, “Revele.”

Ripples played across the water’s surface as if stirred by a trail of unseen pebbles. Bubbling pinpricks simmered along the bottom. Invisible to all but me, water vapor rose and birthed liquid droplets. When a parade of dime-size azure clouds floated aloft, all was ready.

A current of unease warned me to turn away while I still could. It foretold the pain of the reopened wound that awaited me on the other side of another failure. But I couldn’t stop now.

The spell worked best if you had a fairly narrow idea of where you wanted to search. All I had were shadows and guesses. Instead, lashes fluttering closed, I replayed memories of my manman. The bouquet of fine lines on her forehead and at the corners of her oval eyes; her walk, more of a sashay; her perpetually purple fingernails. The times when, through my childhood eyes, I had imagined she and Papa were a happy couple.

But she was never happy with my practice, had tried to drag me away from it and from Papa on several occasions, only to be found and brought back home. We finally left Haiti together as a family, bundling up our things and hastening onto an airplane headed for the place where her only friend had settled. My new and permanent home, New Orleans. I was eight years old.

I opened my eyes to slits, afraid that anything more would make the truth that much harder to bear. The clouds had cleared but the gazing bowl was a void, like the deserted lot where my mother’s yellow house had once stood.

The curses on my tongue smartly gave way to effusive thanks to Erzulie and the other lwa for their presence and gifts. A Vodou priestess’s thoughts were never hers alone: she learned to share them and her life with the gods and goddesses, for them to do with as they saw fit. The deafening pitch of a raging river slammed against my eardrums and quickly faded away. Erzulie had detected my insolence and reminded me that I lived only to sèvi lwa yo—to serve the lwa, and to serve her.

Even with the goddess Erzulie raging through me, I hadn’t been strong enough to stop the hurricane’s destruction.

I was left to wonder if the hurricane’s devastating waters had swept Manman away, clutching nothing but my disrespect, unable to grasp my regret. Or if Papa was right, and she’d jumped at the chance to disappear from both our lives and had boarded a plane to her forever.

Those first weeks after the storm were a blur of sleepless nights, dead-end phone calls, and wreckage. I exhausted the traditional methods, starting with what remained of the local police, and then turned to the tools of my trade as a mambo priestess. Neither yielded me so much as one of my mother’s broken fingernails.

In the intervening years, I’d cursed and cried, walked the city till I had blisters on top of my blisters, and badgered people who now turned away from me as I passed by. But my manman remained an enigma. Not quite a ghost and not the villain Papa imagined her to be.

No matter what my father said, I knew Manman hadn’t run out on us. In my darker moments, I sometimes wondered if he’d been hiding her from me all these years. He was a powerful houngan in his own right, after all. But though he was angry at her, a little embarrassed even, the truth was he would never hurt me that way.

I stood and blew out the candles. Despite what everyone around me whispered, and what the police had stamped on their file, I knew she wasn’t dead. I just needed to find her. And one day, I would.

When we first left Haiti, I was so homesick I feigned every manner of malady I could conjure. Anything that would allow me to ditch school, where the other kids teased me about my accent. At one point, I came home, tossed my backpack down, and told my parents in no uncertain terms that I was going back to Haiti, with or without them. Manman took me in her arms, kissed my tearstained cheeks, and told me that home is where the heart is.

These days, my heart belonged to Tremé and a traditional blue and white New Orleans shotgun built in 1906 and patched up every year since. After an embarrassingly short stint as a marketing research assistant, I’d set up my healing practice about a dozen steps from the back porch to my garage turned temple Vodoun, at least on the days I didn’t attend to clients in their homes.

Today, I was getting ready for a new client to come to me. Pink lip gloss in a shade that actually looked good against browner skin tones. A longish skirt that, to my eye, added inches to the modest height I shared with Papa. A little liner to bring out the oval eyes I got from Manman. Slid on a white headband to help lay the edges from my fresh twistout, and I was ready.

I always awaited my customers out back on the canary-yellow bench in front of my shop, and I’d been delighting in the soul-mellowing music of blue jay and sparrow birdsong interlaced with my neighbor’s flugelhorn rehearsal for a full hour when a car door slammed.

When she’d called to make an appointment for a spirit-doll ritual, I’d told the youthful voice on the other end of the line the same thing I told all first-time customers: don’t go traipsing up to my front door (delivered with a level of professional tact, mind you). “Follow the impossible-to-miss path of blue and white paving stones that curve alongside the wood-slatted fence,” I always told them.

My back never forgave me for the hours spent hunched over, setting and resetting each stone. There was even a sign nailed to the fence above the first paver, yellow backing with royal-blue lettering artfully scripted onto the wood: LE PETIT TEMPLE VODOUN 1791.

And to some these things were all but invisible.

Repeat customers made up the bulk of my practice. Newcomer traffic had fallen to a trickle over the last year. Tourists and locals alike increasingly drawn to the larger, fancier shops dispensing their fancifully bogus Hollywood brand of voodoo magic.

Better them than me. These days, my patience for those unwilling to learn was in critically short supply, much like the food in my kitchen cupboards.

As was my practice with all first-timers, I’d had her repeat the directions back to me. But the attention span required to listen, I mean really listen, required a depth of concentration that was laid to rest alongside good manners in a New Orleans jazz funeral, complete with a second line, sometime after the internet became more social than scientific.

I could’ve pretended that the only reason my shop was in my backyard instead of in the heart of Uptown or the French Quarter was a matter of convenience and virtue. But vodouisants like me didn’t have much call for pretense. Investments in hard work and thrift had thus far yielded returns in the forms of a deep fatigue and a closet full of dated clothes. My life remained stubbornly fixed on a tightrope between broke and bankrupt. Goodbye, dream of a glitzy Dumaine Street storefront; hello, comfortably converted garage.

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The Quarter Storm

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN1542033918, 978-1542033916
Posted onMarch 1, 2022
Page Count287 pages
AuthorVeronica Henry

The Quarter Storm By Veronica Henry PDF Free Download - HUB PDF

The Quarter Storm: A Novel (Mambo Reina) A practitioner of Vodou must test the boundaries of her powers to solve a ritual murder in New Orleans and protect everything she holds sacred.


Author: Veronica Henry

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