Kim Wells does the Apocalypse differently. Kim Wells does magic.
New Orleans, the Big Easy, where tourists in their typical touristy outfits (goofy t-shirts, shorts and sandals - we all know them, right?) stroll the French Quarter, getting their fortune told or simply having a good time. It sounds truly beautiful, and I am sure I would love the Jackson Squre with the cafes, and artists and wonderful places to eat, and feel the vibe of jazz in the air. Everything sounds tasty, and the scenery described is something I crave, so Hoodoopocalypse grabbed me right from the start with those.
One of the very first things noticeable for me was the calm with which Kim Wells sets her words on paper (or rather on her computer screen). There is a quietness, as if she is very secure of every word, every sentence, every paragraph in her writing. People say, you are like a hurricane (okay, Neil Young said it, but who wants to nitpick?) and it´s true. There *is* calm before the storm comes crushing in, and the fires and the floods. And the blindness.
One thing that ties those first wave of Apocalypse Weird books together is the mysterious, 24-hour-blindness that comes unexpected. The blindness, called the Event, hits in the early morning hours but not everyone goes through the state of physical and mental blindess. Some are granted their sight. Some try to help those who are less fortunate, some are looting the shops, and terrorizing those who cannot see. And out of the blue New Orleans is not an easy going place anymore.
Kalfu, a Hoodoo Loa, and one of the demoniac 88, has laid eyes on New Orleans, and using his black powers to control this part of the earth simply because he can. There is also a bit of explanation going on about Hoodoo, the more folk-based, magical version of the more Caribbean Voodoo religion. As it is obvious Kim Wells has researched a ton about it, or is an expert of the matter. Unfamiliar as I was with it for the most parts, but some superficial knowledge, I could understand them easily, even not fully relate, but this is a topic for a different discussion. Kalfu, however, sounds unstable, to say the least, and his pick-up line ´I do magic´, does not anything to reassure me to go out with him for dinner any time soon.
His ´black hands´, the Guede are roaming the streets of New Orleans, with their creepy skull paints, dressed in tuxedos, more fitting for a funeral than a wedding. (I expected some trombones playing as well, but there was none of that). They collect an army of people, those unfortunate souls who couldn´t find a hidey-hole, and any resistance is futile. Brute force works. Some of those unlucky souls are captured to be used in a Gladiator style death fights; think old Rome and panem et circenses, tigers and lions included, and what that means I leave to your imagination. Death and dying ensured, plenty of it.
A young fortune teller by the name of Marie French may hold the right (tarot) cards in her hands to make sure the dark doesn´t destroy everything that is the city of New Orleans. Some of her more powerful white magician friends may be able to send the hurricane that is coming their way into a different direction as not to do more harm that already happened to the city. Or as Kim Wells put it, "this storm sounded like Katrina´s big, drunken brother, crashing a party he wasn´t invited to". And a mysterious marine, coming from the mist, may finally see the ocean, even not in way he could have ever anticipated. Those mermaids are not the sexy redheads from the Disney movies, that´s for sure.
In the core of Hoodoopocalypse (which is a mouthful of a title) is a good versus evil story, the most ancient of all ancient stories ever told. The short version is Marie vs Kalfu, but of course it is a tiny little more complicated even the players are of the either/or sort. The good guys are good, and the evil ones evil. Pretty straight forward and hence easy to keep track.
Throughout the narrative are little tidbits of historical information of New Orleans thrown in, with a hint of some otherwordly, speculative, alternative explanations. Those might be even truer than any real ones, who can tell at this point? I was sad to see the city destroyed that way. I grow fond of it during my reading of the book. Everything is done so lovingly, and there is a certain rhythm that keeps everything moving forward. The book swings. It might be the magic, or the easyiness with which the author describes those events.
The only thing that drove me seriously nuts at times was Wells´ idiosyncratic use of parenthesis (like why?). Then I realized at some point what a smart way it was to convey information which was always useful and interesting, as it does not destroy the flow of the narration.
If you are around those parts, better stay clear of everything south of I-10. And car pool lines. They might lead to uncontrollable rage outbursts which might end not so well.
Also no Apocalypse Weird book would be done without the inane ramblings of Dr Midnite. Those might be be seriously weird (pun intended lame as it may be) but I´m by now fully convinced those are the bread crumbs to follow. I feel like Gretel to pick them up piece by piece, just to get more and more lost into a world that once was, and is no more.
What I also loved was how smart Hoodoopocalypse ties in into Chris Pourteau´s The Serenity Strain (and who needs Houston anyway?) and some future, not yet published books. It is a ton of fun to get the made connections, to see how single lines thrown in, apparently at random, build a much bigger picture. I guess the Apocalypse is just weird like that.