Monday, March 28, 2022

The Quarter Storm Excerpt - Veronica Henry

Photo Content from Veronica Henry

Veronica Henry was born in Brooklyn, New York, and has been a bit of a rolling stone ever since. Her work has appeared in various online publications. She is a graduate of the Viable Paradise Workshop and a member of SFWA.

Veronica is proud to be of Sierra Leonean ancestry and counts her trip home as the most important of her life. She now writes from North Carolina, where she eschews rollerballs for fountain pens and fine paper. Other untreated addictions include chocolate and cupcakes.

Veronica's debut novel, Bacchanal, is out now and available at bookstores and libraries everywhere.


Publisher ‏ : ‎ 47North (March 1, 2022)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 287 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1542033918
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1542033916


“…this hits the sweet spot of eschewing overdone tropes while retaining the familiar elements that draw fans to the genre. Readers will hope to see more of Mambo Reina.” ―Publishers Weekly

“The Quarter Storm conjures up an intriguing mystery that draws readers away from New Orleans’s famous tourist spots for a story filled with twists, turns, and unexpected discoveries that will leave them eager for more. Because there’s no better sleuth to handle a murder in New Orleans than a Vodou priestess.” ―Nicole Glover, author of The Conductors


“Henry gives us a captivating mystery full of fantasy and African traditional religion, as well as a bewitching investigator, rooted in her faith, dedicated to her community, and dogged in her pursuit of the truth.” ―Eden Royce, author of Root Magic
The mind could conjure all kinds of fanciful scenarios to assuage the guilt of a poor choice of last words. In my favored delusion, my mother and I were chatting it up while she window-shopped at Oakwood Center over in Terrytown. That place was for her what my backyard peristil was to me: a sanctuary. Had Bondye been merciful, the back- ground noise of bustling shoppers would have spared her, my vitriol quieted to a few sharp words uttered under my breath. But God wasn’t always available to answer a servant’s whims. In the end, the hurricane swallowed the apology I’d held off delivering until the next day and took a sizable chunk of the city with it.

Papa had once again been the stubborn root of what I hadn’t known at the time would be our final conflict. He’d always sat wedged between us like a parapet in a grisly, decades-long conflict. My father’s singular focus was that his daughter continue the unbroken line of Vodou priests and priestesses dating back to Benin. Manman wanted a different life for me. Though she lost in the end, their fights on the matter were a thing of legend.

And now the only thing I had left of her was a fragment of a text message that I had saved on a phone long since inoperable. Three cryp- tic letters that taunted me whenever I closed my eyes: N O P.

I found lost things for people all the time. Misplaced keys, money buried in backyard graves, a pet that had run off in search of a happier home. Even helped the police find my stolen car once. The water-gazing bowl’s magic always uncovered many secrets. But I hadn’t dared to look into those waters in service to myself in a long time. Their stubborn silence both judgment and sentence. Longing, though rarer those last few years, sometimes overwhelmed my efforts at self-preservation.

It was time to try again.

The altar to my patron, Erzulie, sat on a small table in a corner of the living room facing the front door. Both warning and welcome to all who entered. I lit the candles: fat round yellows, tall skinny reds and purples, a profusion of colorful strings of beads interwoven between them all.

The small space was completed with an image of Erzulie’s vèvè: an intricately sketched heart filled with stars and curlicues sprouting from the tips and corners. With no expendable cash for luxuries, a spritz of my homemade concoction served as a perfume offering.

The water-gazing bowl, unused but for this purpose, rested at the center of a low table atop a white tablecloth. A thumbprint on the plain sterling-silver rim caught my attention. It was stalling, but I whipped out a purified cloth and polished away the imperfection.

A flutter of anxiety stilled my hands.

When I saw myself reflected in the gleam, I knelt, planting my knees atop the golden cushion.

The dubious muck that came out of your typical New Orleans fau- cet had never touched this bowl unaltered. The version I now splashed in had been boiled three times, run through a sieve, and blessed with the words of my religion. My heart swelled with hope and constricted with the disappointment of so many failed attempts. I knew better than to put myself through this again. But what kind of daughter gave up on her mother?

I lowered my head, clasped my hands together, and whispered,


Ripples played across the water’s surface as if stirred by a trail of unseen pebbles. Bubbling pinpricks simmered along the bottom. Invisible to all but me, water vapor rose and birthed liquid droplets. When a parade of dime-size azure clouds floated aloft, all was ready.

A current of unease warned me to turn away while I still could. It foretold the pain of the reopened wound that awaited me on the other side of another failure. But I couldn’t stop now.

The spell worked best if you had a fairly narrow idea of where you wanted to search. All I had were shadows and guesses. Instead, lashes fluttering closed, I replayed memories of my Manman. The bouquet of fine lines on her forehead and at the corners of her oval eyes; her walk, more of a sashay; her perpetually purple fingernails. The times when, through my childhood eyes, I had imagined she and Papa were a happy couple.

But she was never happy with my practice, had tried to drag me away from it and from Papa on several occasions, only to be found and brought back home. We finally left Haiti together as a family, bundling up our things and hastening onto an airplane headed for the place where her only friend had settled. My new and permanent home, New Orleans. I was eight years old.

I opened my eyes to slits, afraid that anything more would make the truth that much harder to bear. The clouds had cleared but the gazing bowl was a void, like the deserted lot where my mother’s yellow house had once stood.

The curses on my tongue smartly gave way to effusive thanks to Erzulie and the other lwa for their presence and gifts. A Vodou priest- ess’s thoughts were never hers alone: she learned to share them and her life with the gods and goddesses, for them to do with as they saw fit. The deafening pitch of a raging river slammed against my eardrums and 
quickly faded away. Erzulie had detected my insolence and reminded me that I lived only to sèvi lwa yo—to serve the lwa, and to serve her.

Even with the goddess Erzulie raging through me, I hadn’t been strong enough to stop the hurricane’s destruction.

I was left to wonder if the hurricane’s devastating waters had swept Manman away, clutching nothing but my disrespect, unable to grasp my regret. Or if Papa was right, and she’d jumped at the chance to disappear from both our lives and had boarded a plane to her forever.

Those first weeks after the storm were a blur of sleepless nights, dead-end phone calls, and wreckage. I exhausted the traditional meth- ods, starting with what remained of the local police, and then turned to the tools of my trade as a mambo priestess. Neither yielded me so much as one of my mother’s broken fingernails.

In the intervening years, I’d cursed and cried, walked the city till I had blisters on top of my blisters, and badgered people who now turned away from me as I passed by. But my Manman remained an enigma. Not quite a ghost and not the villain Papa imagined her to be.

No matter what my father said, I knew Manman hadn’t run out on us. In my darker moments, I sometimes wondered if he’d been hiding her from me all these years. He was a powerful houngan in his own right, after all. But though he was angry at her, a little embarrassed even,

the truth was he would never hurt me that way.

I stood and blew out the candles. Despite what everyone around me whispered, and what the police had stamped on their file, I knew she wasn’t dead. I just needed to find her. And one day, I would.

A practitioner of Vodou must test the boundaries of her powers to solve a ritual murder in New Orleans and protect everything she holds sacred.

Haitian-American Vodou priestess Mambo Reina Dumond runs a healing practice from her New Orleans home. Gifted with water magic since she was a child, Reina is devoted to the benevolent traditions of her ancestors.

After a ritual slaying in the French Quarter, police arrest a fellow vodouisant. Detective Roman Frost, Reina’s ex-boyfriend—a fierce nonbeliever—is eager to tie the crime, and half a dozen others, to the Vodou practitioners of New Orleans. Reina resolves to find the real killer and defend the Vodou practice and customs, but the motives behind the murder are deeper and darker than she imagines.

As Reina delves into the city’s shadows, she untangles more than just the truth behind a devious crime. It’s a conspiracy. As a killer wields dangerous magic to thwart Reina’s investigation, she must tap into the strength of her own power and faith to solve a mystery that threatens to destroy her entire way of life.

You can purchase The Quarter Storm at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you VERONICA G. HENRY for making this giveaway possible.
3 Winners will receive a Copy of THE QUARTER STORM by Veronica G. Henry.
1 Winner will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card
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