2015 Book #252: THE WITCH OF BOURBON STREET by Suzanne Palmieri

The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri
ISBN: 9781250056191 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781466877733 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OYGJG2O (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 28, 2015 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

When Frances Sorrow returns home to the now dilapidated Sorrow Estate to restore her birthright, she finds herself haunted by a 100-year-old mystery only she can unravel

Set amidst the charming chaos of The French Quarter and remote bayous of Tivoli Parish, Louisiana, Suzanne Palmieri’s The Witch of Bourbon Street weaves an unforgettable tale of mystery and magic.

Situated deep in the bayou is the formerly opulent Sorrow Estate. Once home to a magical family, the Sorrows, it now lays in ruins, uninhabited since a series of murders in 1902 shocked the entire community. When Frances Green Sorrow is born, the family is on the brink of obscurity and the last remaining Sorrows cling to the hope that she is the one who will finally resurrect the glory of what once was.

However, Frances has no wish to be the family’s savior. Disillusioned, she marries young, attempting an “ordinary life,” and has a son, Jack. When her marriage fails and she loses custody of her boy, she runs away to live a quiet life on the dilapidated Sorrow Estate, where she practices solitary magic amid ghosts and gardens. But when Jack disappears, she is forced to rejoin the world she left behind and solve the century-old murder that casts a long shadow over Tivoli Parish and its inhabitants in order to find her son.

The Witch of Bourbon Street is a story of love, family, redemption and forgiveness. It’s a story that bridges the nostalgia of time, and brings those that are separated back together again.

The Sorrow family is just that, a family filled with a history of sorrow. Due to a tragedy in 1901, the subsequent generations of Sorrows have had to deal with the idea that their family is cursed. The Sorrow women consist of Frances (Frankie), her mother Claudette, and her grandmother Dida. Claudette suffered a tragic injury causing blindness when she was only four years old. Her lover and father to Frankie drowned in an accident at sea. Frankie has turned her back on the world because she feels guilt over an incident that occurred when she was sixteen years old. Frankie’s son Jack has decided to take it upon himself to bring his parents back together using whatever magic he can work. The Witch of Bourbon Street is a multigenerational story that weaves magic in with love lost, love found, family, and forgiveness.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this story. We have Frances “Frankie” Sorrow and her family: Belinda “Dida” Sorrow (grandmother), Old Jim Green (grandfather), Claudette “Claudie” Sorrow (mother), Daniel Amore (ex-husband and father to Jack), Jack Amore (Frankie’s son), Millie Bliss (Jackie’s best friend and surrogate sister), and Sippie Wallace (Frankie’s daughter). The supporting cast includes: Eight Track (Sippie’s adoptive father), Simone (Sippie’s deceased adoptive mother), Junebug (the bartender at Voodoo), and Mr. Craven (historical society worker) . . . and a lot of ghosts. There’s the bar at 13 Bourbon Street in New Orleans that is owned by the Sorrow family, the Voodoo bar in Tivoli Parish that is managed by Millie, the bayou, and the Sorrow family estate. Add in a family history of witchcraft and magic along with the hidden story behind the tragedy of 1901 and you’ve got all the makings for a somewhat convoluted yet intriguing story that spans generations and time.

I found The Witch of Bourbon Street to be a bit confusing at first simply because it was bouncing back and forth in time (1901 and the present) and then bouncing between perspectives. Once I had all of the major characters clear in my head and their relationships to one another it was a bit easier to keep track of everything. The story really began to pick up when Sippie located her biological family and was reunited with them. There’s quite a bit of backstory that has to be dealt with before we get to the action precipitated by Jack’s disappearance. Can Frankie and Danny overcome their differences and build a lasting relationship? Will Frankie, Danny, and Sippie be able to find Jack? What’s the mystery behind the Sorrow family tragedy in 1901? These questions and many more are answered fully when past and present overlap in The Witch of Bourbon Street. This story is perfect for anyone that enjoys reading about love, family, forgiveness, and family drama with hints of magic.

Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Witch of Belladonna Bay by Suzanne Palmieri
ISBN: 9781250015532 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781250015525 (ebook)
ASIN: B00GEU760C (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

It’s the trouble you aren’t expecting that gets you. And it’s all around you, Bronwyn, it’s all around you like the air…

Bronwyn “BitsyWyn” Whalen hasn’t set eyes on the red dirt of Magnolia Creek, Alabama, for fourteen years—not since her mama died. But with her brother, Patrick, imprisoned for the murder of her childhood best friend, and her eccentric father, Jackson, at his wits’ end while her eleven-year-old niece, Byrd, runs wild, Bronwyn finds herself once again surrounded by ancient magnolia trees and the troubled family she left behind. She becomes immersed in a whirlwind of mystery and magic as she tries to figure out what really happened that fateful night her friend died. And as her bond with Byrd deepens, Bronwyn must face the demons of her past in order to unravel her family’s uncertain future. In Suzanne Palmieri’s thrilling new novel, The Witch of Belladonna Bay, readers will learn if love and magic are enough to bring a broken family back together.

Bronwyn Whalen has, what she feels is, the perfect life. She has a successful career in photography and a man that she loves. What she doesn’t have is a relationship with her family. All of that is about to change with one simple phone call. It’s been fourteen years since Bronwyn left Magnolia Creek, Alabama vowing never to return. She left behind her father, her brother, her great-aunt, and her best friends. One simple phone call shatters her life. Her childhood best friend has been murdered, her brother has been arrested for the murder, and her brother’s daughter is left to fend for herself. The only thing Bronwyn can do is face the past and return to Alabama to sort out the truth.

The Witch of Belladonna Bay is a modern gothic novel with a Southern twist. Ms. Palmieri deftly blends murder, mayhem, mystery, magic, mysticism, and ghosts into a captivating tale of family and loss. Bronwyn feels that her mother neglected her and her brother by using drugs to the point of addiction. Bronwyn, in turn, neglects her family for years as she struggles to find herself. Byrd, Bronwyn’s niece, is precocious, lovable, and wild. Byrd attends school when she wants, takes baths when she feels like it, and is loved and feared by almost everyone in town. It doesn’t help that Bronwyn’s mother, Naomi, and her entire family are descendants of witches from New England, or that Bronwyn and Byrd are recipients of that magic. Add in a family curse and legends into the mix and you wind up with a story that didn’t let me go until the final page.

One of the things that kept my attention from beginning to end was the alternating perspectives of Bronwyn, Byrd, and the ghostly Naomi. Ms. Palmieri has crafted believable characters even when dealing with somewhat unbelievable circumstances. The Witch of Belladonna Bay is all about what a person is willing to do to protect their loved ones. Byrd does what she can in order to protect her father, aunt, and grandfather even if it means turning her back on the greatest love of her life. Bronwyn is forced to act to protect her loved ones even if it means losing the one person she has turned to for love and support over the past seven years of her life. I found The Witch of Belladonna Bay to be a fast-paced read and one that I completed in one sitting over the course of one evening. If you enjoy contemporary gothic fiction or are just interested in reading something a little different, then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of The Witch of Belladonna Bay to read. You’ll probably want to set aside a few hours so you can read it cover to cover, perhaps while enjoying the sun at the beach or poolside.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from BookSparks as part of the Summer Reading Challenge. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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