Kristen Imani Kasai is a brilliant, theatrical writer with a wit and allure she applies to carefully-chosen adjectives and adages. Her story The House of Erzulie, is both a delight (especially to the romantic fanatic) and a real heartache to read.
If you’re the type of reader who screams and tosses books out the window because it spun your expectations and emotions to a dizzy, it’s time to change.
But only a little.
The protagonist (Lydia Mueller) is worth rooting for despite her battles with marital betrayal, a growing adolescent son who seems emotionally confused, and a questionable delusion of loneliness and suspicion. However, inside is a strong and adventurous character begging to erupt and take on the world. When and where that character will summon is conflict number one.
As a Black historian architect, she is romanticized and passionate about the mysteries and stories behind older buildings, particularly from the eras of slavery. In her work, she meets Emilie and Isidore Bilodeau who have rocky histories horrifically similar to her own.
Emilie is enthralled by the Spiritualistic world and begins to bloom as an intellectual and spiritual optimistic. Her husband, however, is offered the ‘bad end of the stick’ of this world after succumbing to a Vodou temptress. This is conflict number two.
The infidelity of Lydia’s marriage smacks the reader in the face (again) with the outstanding yet grim details of Isidore’s whereabouts. After the second account of betrayal, the reader has to choose between continuing to read (hopefully a vengeful, wicked ending awaits) or endure the melancholy journey to heartbreak and insanity.
The ending, however, is worth it:
Lydia finally finds solace and takes control of her collapsing life.
The hint of historical references made coquettish with her style of writing and the refined depictions of traditional, African-American Gothic makes The House of Erzulie worth keeping on the inside of your window.
Tariqah currently studies Graphic Design and English and resides in the southern suburbs of Chicago. She is your typical bibliophile with a passion for art and literature.
The author of this article received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.