Review of Blackwell by Alexandrea Weis

Hell has a new master

In the late 1800s, handsome, wealthy New Englander, Magnus Blackwell, is the envy of all.

When Magnus meets Jacob O’Conner—a Harvard student from the working class—an unlikely friendship is forged. But their close bond is soon challenged by a captivating woman; a woman Magnus wants, but Jacob gets.

Devastated, Magnus seeks solace in a trip to New Orleans. After a chance meeting with Oscar Wilde, he becomes immersed in a world of depravity and brutality, inevitably becoming the inspiration for Dorian Gray. Armed with the forbidden magic of voodoo, he sets his sights on winning back the woman Jacob stole from him.

Amid the trappings of Victorian society, two men, bent on revenge, will lay the foundation for a curse that will forever alter their destinies.

When I first started reading this book, I really didn’t know what to expect. But, the more I read, the faster I read in order to see what would happen!

Magnus Blackwell is a spoiled rich Harvard student who befriends an orphaned Jacob O’Connor, much to Jacob’s surprise. Jacob is only able to attend the prestigious Architecture school because of a kind benefactor. The two develop a keen friendship, but of course, a lovely young woman comes between them.

Magnus is obsessed with Frances, but he wants more from her than she is willing to give. Instead, she falls for the less flamboyant and poorer O’Connor. Magnus is livid, but tries to hide his feelings from his (former) friends.

He travels to New Orleans, where he meets the English author, Oscar Wilde. Wilde introduces him to the debauchery of brothels and to the religion of voodoo. Magnus’ sexual appetites become depraved after his rejection by Frances and the brothel of Madam Simone seems to be just the thing for his desires.

There were many things to love about this book. Having lived in Louisiana, I am always fascinated by books involving voodoo. The author does a wonderful job in the descriptions of the area and in the lore of voodoo. Throughout the book, the descriptions of the fashions, the décor, the architecture and the parties are wonderful.

The characters are well-developed and the story kept me reading long into the night. The addition of Oscar Wilde and his story, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” was woven into the fabric of “Blackwell” in a way that actually could have happened.

This book has many, many layers to it: Love, lust, revenge, hate, depravity, terror, and so much more are hidden within. I was reminded of the Gothic romances I read in my younger days.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially those with horror or gothic undertones, and those who want to know more about voodoo and the New Orleans of this time period


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