July 24, 2014

Review: Poison & Wine

****The authors will be releasing a new and improved edition.****

Poison & Wine (Poison & Wine series, book 1) by C.H. Valentino, Eldon Hughes


Genre: Urban Fantasy
Edition Reviewed: eBook
Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
Goodreads: Goodreads

Danni Toussaint has a nail in her chest as a mark of her debt to The Baron Samedi - a debt she can only repay with the souls he forces her to steal. Michael Belew is desperate. Someone is kidnapping nuns in the Ninth Ward where he was raised an orphan, and he suspects a powerful enemy armed with voodoo magic. When Michael asks for Danni's help to find the kidnapper - or killer - they become pawns in a vicious game between The Baron Samedi and his brother, Lacroix. The prize? Control of the most powerful source of magic in New Orleans. Now, to protect the people of his city and save Danni from Samedi, Michael may have to sacrifice his soul.(


There is no doubt that Poison and Wine is one of the coolest voodoo books I have read. The twist at the end. Epic! Clearly this writing duo is bringing a lot of new ideas to a genre that has gotten stale recently. (Sure there's still the tried and trued greats, but the Urban Fantasy genre hasn't been bringing in any new blood lately. Just readers' favorites.) Yet, there are a few things lacking from this debut that didn't quite keep it to the 3/5 I had strongly suspected I'd give it when I first started.

Now, the world. Ahh!! Seriously I'm still so in ahh my mind can only come up with terms like “freaking awesome!” and “let's do that again!” No really. Good voodoo books are hard to find. Especially ones dealing with the Barons. Some just baffle you with the lingo, or lose themselves in convoluted plots and mythology. Poison and Wine handles everything nicely. If you know your basic Baron myths and voodoo, easy. If you're going no prior knowledge of voodoo/hoodoo, readers might need to look up a few things. Other then that easy as cake. The Baron Samedi is the main face of voodoo if you read it, and while his basic look is always the same. Baron Samedi is simply amazing in Poison Wine. Hands down my all time favorite literary version to date!

The mystery surrounding the disappearances of the nuns starts off creepy right out of the gate. The magic and horrors still happening after the aftermath of Katrina is an amazing twist. A lot of Urban Fantasy authors have been playing around with Katrina in their worlds, and I'm impressed with what I found here. The tough as nails Nuns were a treat, as I love “super” nuns. (Anime ruined me.) The interactions of the lead female, Danni, with the nuns was priceless at times. Moving at others. New Orleans may be a city of magic, but I've always loved it when authors play up the dark side of the Crescent City and how it affects the people there.

Now for why I can't quite give Poison and Wine a 3/5. First up the writing. I can tell that C.H. Valentino and Eldon Hughes are quite the writing team. Once they get their stride going I suspect they're probably going to be one of the most powerful writing duos in the Urban Fantasy genre. At times I could taste the salt water from the bay and hear the city's rough noises, but then it would completely fade a way leaving me with just words. The worst part was the minor grammar errors that would just pull me out. “Pair of pants” was “pair pants”. The word “stay” lost it's “t”. “That” as somehow a “the”. Of, as, an, and other minor words were missing. I read every word in a book. I do not speed read or skim. So yes, I am allowed to be that picky. If I put forth the effort to enjoy the book, I expect the editing process to have picked up on those errors. Because nothing pulls me out of a story faster then grammar errors. Especially when they're sprinkled through out the book from beginning to end, happening sometimes on the same page. Not even chapters between them to spread the errors.

My final gripe and the one thing that always, always, smacks me out of a read. Character development, and more accurately the connection I have with them. Danni is awesome, and she's everything I love in a female lead. She isn't a super warrior woman, but she is tough. Michael is the charming white knight, who has enough naughty in his past to make him interesting. (The plot twist about him, was a bit silly. Come on, Danni knew what he really was. She's too smart to be claiming ignorance.) Both were introduced beautifully and instantly drew me under the spell of Poison and Wine. Sadly, I felt like I was in a car pressed up against the glass looking out at the rain and waiting to touch it. However, the window never gets rolled down. It's stuck, and the car is getting muggy!

Danni and Michael have enough of a reveal about what led to their attachments to the Barons, but nothing else. They're lonely isolated characters, which is the norm for the genre. The trick is to develop the characters outside of their current story and past so that reader feel like they're connected to them now. You know going from one dimensional to four dimensional. This story is told in third person, and I know third person can develop characters really well. Sadly that doesn't always happen with third person writing, which is why I'm usually a sucker for first person. The whole time while reading I felt like the characters where keeping me at arms length and I was just waiting for them to finally let me in.

The pacing of Poison and Wine was perfection. No dull dragged out moments. No. Nothing but a perfect rush. The mystery was amazing and the battle of wits during the “game” the Barons are playing was . . . “Freaking awesome!” C.H. Valentino and Eldon Hughes have something here. Despite the grammar issues—so cruel when the writing is sooooo close to being perrrrrfection—and the lack of connection with the characters, I am in for the next book! If these two nail it my mind will probably explode! (In a good way.) The setting is amazing and after that ending! Oh, that ending. This series is well worth giving it a chance to see where it goes.

Sexual Content: Some minor sexual content, nothing over the top.

2/5- Average/disappointing, library check-out.

Previous book(s) in series:
Reviewed on BW: Amazon: Goodreads:

Poison & Wine (1)
Dust to Dust (2)

Poison & Wine (1)
Dust to Dust (2)

Poison & Wine (1)
Dust to Dust (2)

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