Wild, Campy, and Commonplace in The Crescent City
Erin McCarthy's novel, The Taking, is the story of Regan, an heiress, and her fantastical love affair with a voodoo priest named Felix. The story takes place in New Orleans, and the story is, in parts, as mysterious and wild as The Big Easy is said to be. Complete with demons, curses, spells, and a dead woman come to haunt a house and its owner, The Taking has a little bit of every kind of supernatural mojo, except vampires, it seems. A romance at heart, the story is also in some ways a paranormal mystery, of sorts, but also blends in a bit too much of the everyday, resulting in a bit of a hodge-podge of a story.
The story begins with Regan as an unhappy wife to Beau Alcroft, a New Orleans lawyer. She plans to leave him because she doesn't love him, but her plans are given credence when she meets Felix, a practitioner of voodoo who is hired to read tarot cards at her husband's law firm's Christmas party. Felix senses her unhappiness and gives her a reading that lets her know her decision is the right one for her. He feels an instant attraction but denies it. Shortly after the party, Regan leaves her husband and buys a house she's loved for years. She moves in and finds herself haunted by a young woman named Camille who used to live there and fell to her death from a bedroom balcony. Very quickly, strange things begin to happen to Regan, and she turns to Felix for help.
Felix is instantly attracted to her, but fears being with her. He is cursed and doesn't believe he will ever be able to love her or have her love him back. But they fall for one another and then the wildness begins to happen. In the end, however, this book is a romance, and they live happily ever after, demons and ghosts are gone, and all is wrapped up nicely.
The Taking is in some parts quite interesting and in other parts too campy and even common. There is the gay friend of Regan, who seems to spout every gay cliche available, including the screeching Shut up! when he is surprised at something said. Also, the vocabulary is downright pedestrian. Regan comments on her marriage at one point by saying it blew to be married to Beau. This kind of stuff is pretty common language for literature and not very well written.
The romantic hero, Felix, is ok, but he doesn't burn up the pages sexually. For a Creole, voodoo man, he seems pretty tame, actually. The heroine, Regan, is also pretty commonplace. Nothing in her seems to be any different than many females who exist in real life.
Overall, The Taking has some interesting parts to it, but the camp is too over the top and the commonplace is just too common. It's a strange combination that doesn't really work for this Broad.
Louisiana Voodoo And A Creole Lover....Except There's Not Much Voodoo, and Loverboy's Not A Creole Anymore. Go Figure.
Regan Henry Alcroft consents to having a tarot reading done to bolster enthusiasm at her controlling husband's business soiree, not out of any belief in such things, but as an excuse to escape his presence, but when the mystical Felix LeBlanc unmasks her inner turmoil, revealing truths he could not know, Regan is shaken. His direct confrontation of her fears, and his veiled warnings solidify her desire to free herself from her husband's tight hold over her life.
Regan moves forward in her new life, free from her marriage and feeling alive for the first time in years; however, things are not what they seem. Strange and frightening things are happening in her new home, and Regan finds herself turning to the mysterious voodoo practitioner for help. But Felix LeBlanc carries his own secrets, and as the two become more entangled in the bizarre occurrences surrounding Regan and in their desire for one another, Felix must try to protect the woman he is falling in love with and convince her that sometimes evil is found in the most inconspicuous places.
The Taking offers readers a bit of mystery, eerie creole magic, and unchecked passion. McCarthy blends these elements well, especially written within the discovered journal entries of the tragic Camille, a young woman devastated by her family's death and the greedy ambition of both men if her life. This trio of characters from the 1800's resurfaces in the present day to conclude unfinished business, with Regan a pawn in a demonic game of winner-take-all.
While McCarthy's characters do work well in the story together, none stand out as fantastic in her present day setting. Felix was, frankly, flat out boring at times, and Alcroft wasn't nearly dastardly enough as a fallen angel turned demon. The story barely had Felix practice any of his Creole voodoo magic, and Regan comes across as self-conscious and crazy, as she accepts that her face can morph into someone else's, or that ghosts can haunt her in very real ways, but rejects Felix's confession of his cursed past and explanation of the other-worldly events consuming her life.
Where McCarthy impressed was in the writing of the novel's opening passage, which was another long ago journal entry penned in the aftermath of plague by a fictitious priest. Absolutely fabulous in its wording, it left this broad hoping that McCarthy will unleash an entire novel of that calibre. OOOh, Lah Lah.
Recommendation: * * * _ _