Dark Bayou: Charlemagne was a BAMF

This is post number 11.

Background: Dark Bayou is written by Nancy K. Duplechain. The cover just has the title over an image of a bayou.

Plot: Leigh returns home to a small town in Louisiana for her brother’s funeral. While there, she receives custody of her ten year old niece and plenty of scolding from her grandmother. She misses L. A. but decides to stay in Louisiana because Leigh starts to have terrible dreams about her niece being in grave danger.

Spoilers: Leigh’s grandmother reveals that she and all of her French ancestors have abilities gifted to them in order to fight the forces of evil. Their ancestors were French knights who served Charlemagne, and each knight and Charlemagne had an ability. Her family in particular has the ability to heal others, and through unfortunate circumstances, this ability led to Leigh’s mother’s demise. The forces of evil are trying to come after the niece in order to wreak havoc on the world. After kidnapping the niece, Leigh, her grandmother, her grandmother’s friends, and Leigh’s new boyfriend set out to find the niece and defeat the dark ones. After a climatic battle, the niece is returned and peace returns. Leigh’s grandmother then sends Leigh to New Orleans to complete some training.

Passage:

I turned off a half mile later, onto yet another back road. This one was more up-to-date, paved more recently and fewer pot holes. I went for several miles through wooded landscape on either side of me, when I came to a clearing. As I approached, I instantly recognized it as the Bancker cemetery. Figures I’d wind up here. Without really knowing why, I pulled up alongside the cemetery. I stopped, but didn’t get out. Instead, I gazed out at the graves, spotting two with fresh flowers and yellow ribbons. They were David’s and Michelle’s.

Opinion: Dark Bayou utilizes French-creole culture very well. The back story and explanation of powers is well thought out and researched, which gave the novel depth. I thought that the use of Charlemagne and his knights as part of the mythology was really creative and interesting.

The main character is one of my favorites that I have seen in a free e-book. She has a terrible past and an unfortunate present, but Leigh never comes off as whiny or annoying. Leigh is strong, independent, but also troubled and sensitive; for example, she wants to leave and live a comfortable life in California, but is not so selfish to leave behind a defenseless orphan. There is also a love interest for her, but he is not the center of the protagonist’s universe, which is more refreshing than it should be. Her powers are not fully developed, but this is explained by a lack of training, so I can deal with it.

The writing is well done, and this novel is written in first person from Leigh’s perspective. In terms of dialogue, the author does use some phonetic pronunciation of the region’s dialect, but I feel like this is not as cringe inducing as in other novels because it is used to show some of the French-creole culture rather than only tell that a character has an accent.

Ratings: This is a fantasy/sci-fi novel so the ratings are:

Powers: 6/10

Explanation for Powers: 9/10

World/Environment/Culture: 9/10

Creativity: 10/10

Plot: 8/10

Overall I give Dark Bayou a 9/10. The writing and culture kept me intrigued, and I was amazed at the level of depth and creativity the story had with the magical history. If I had paid money for this book, I would have been satisfied, so I can definitely say that I recommend this novel.

Citation: Duplechain, Nancy K. (2011-05-05). Dark Bayou (The Dark Trilogy) (p. 86). . Kindle Edition.

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