J.D. Horn begins a new series with The King of Bones and Ashes. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, Horn introduces us to the Marin family, young, old, and not entirely alive. This is definitely an atmospheric, Southern gothic-tinged fantasy.
The Marins are part of the Chanticleer witches’ coven, and their magic is slowly but surely fading out. Those that still have some magic are forced to use drastic means to maintain what they have.
Since this is a new series, Horn must provide extensive world-building detail. He introduces a raft of characters, witches, voodoo practitioners, believers in magic, and those who question its validity. Integral to the plot is Horn’s version of bogey man—named Babau Jean. And a pretty boss magical cat!
The New Orleans Witches are aware that an ancient grimoire, The Book Of Unwinding, may have answers to the decline in available magic. But no one knows quite where it is.
I picked this book up for two reasons. First, I enjoyed the author’s previous Witching Savannah series. Second, I was approved for the ARC of book two in the New Orleans series. So I needed to get filled in!
Horn dumps a huge amount of information on his readers in The King of Bones and Ashes. The process could have used more finesse, since it felt more overwhelming than exciting.
Because Horn uses alternating POVs with shifting time periods, you’ve got to pay attention. It wasn’t easy to keep all the characters and relationships straight. Although I’ll admit I might feel this way because I listened to the audiobook. But, truthfully, at one point I wanted to sit down and make myself a family tree for the characters.
I’m glad to have book two, called The Book Of Unwinding, ready to read. I hope it delivers more action and less exposition in that book.
But don’t think I’m not intrigued by the mythology Horn is building here. I am. It’s just creepy enough for me to allow myself to be drawn into the strange and magical brew.