This graphic novel is not one that I would have probably found on my own. It is a one-shot graphic novel that is not connected to anything that I usually read. It has the element of the mystical, but seems to be grounded in the world of Hoodoo. The art is what attracted me at first on the library shelf because the drawings definitely have a distinct style. The story is kind of odd, but is introducing the reader to a lore that they might not know or understand as the story takes place in the swamps of Louisiana. Having never been to Louisiana, or many places in the South in general, I do not necessarily know what is true or what is not. At the same time the story, even if not based on actual stories or lore, does paint a very dark, mystical, and powerful picture for the characters moving in it.
The beginning of the story just starts out dark as Aurora’s parents are dead and the only family she has left alive is her grandfather who lives out in the middle of nowhere. Even though the case workers do not really find him to be a fit guardian, they decide that until they have another choice it is the best option for the time being. Due to the fact that the citizens of the island where the grandfather resides believe in Hoodoo, one of the locals provides strict instructions for when and how Aurora should travel to her grandfather as otherwise it might anger the spirits. Of course the case workers ignore the instructions and just send Aurora on her way. Already this is not an auspicious start to Aurora’s journey.
Aurora’s grandfather being somewhat of a curmudgeonly type man Aurora befriends a local woman who is the resident Hoodoo practitioner (there was a specific name, but I do not remember and had to return the book to the library). She teaches Aurora some simple steps to follow to protect herself and even makes her something to wear for protection. One of the big things that she is supposed to do is sprinkle brick dust in doorways to keep out evil spirits. There are a lot of moments in the books where they talk about the various Hoodoo rituals and what they mean. Aurora herself did not have a history with Hoodoo, but quickly seems to pick up on the importance of it to the island and begins to study it.
Once Aurora gets to the island some strange events start to happen. At first Aurora feels like the citizens blame her for the bad situations, due to her arriving all out of whack with the specified instructions. It is not long after this that the real reason for the evils that are happening is discovered. A true evil spirit that is trying to destroy everyone on the island. Over the course of the story many people die strange deaths and the mayhem starts small and builds to a final riveting crescendo. Leading the storyteller from the present to the past and even to the gates of hell itself.
I thoroughly enjoyed the simple story being told in this graphic novel. Aurora was a character that I could relate to. Surrounded by kind folks who just have a different way of living their lives than most people. My favorite part of the story though is the grandfather’s pet raccoon. I mean it is just a raccoon, but he has so much personality and is a great companion for Aurora as she explores strange new rituals and beliefs.