Black Heart Loa

Black Heart Loa - Adrian Phoenix Originally posted at WickedLilPixie Reviews

Black Heart Loa is the much-anticipated second book in Adrian Phoenix’s Hoodoo series, and picks up immediately where Black Dust Mambo ends, with the characters sitting in Divinity’s living room. Kallie Riveiére is a Hoodoo, meaning she handles juju and potions and medicines. Her best friend Belladonna is a mambo-in-training. Kallie’s aunt Divinity is also her hoodoo teacher and sits near the real Gabrielle LaRue who is a mambo, or voodoo priestess, and deals with the loas. Kallie is doing a reading of her cards trying to locate her cousin Jackson, because it is clear he and his dog have been kidnapped. Abruptly, two men in ski masks break in to her aunt’s home with a shotgun, demanding to know where Jackson has hidden their money. Kallie and Belladonna are able to outsmart them and turn their own guns on them in an attempt to find out where Jackson is:
Kallie handed the shotgun to the voodooienne, then stepped aside. Belladonna swung the barrel back into place, aimed at Cash’s hand-protected crotch.

Belladonna tsked. “Tiny target.”

“That the best y’all can do?” Cash said, blood oozing from his swollen nose. The skin beneath his eyes was just starting to bruise and puff up. “Small-dick jokes?”

“Nope,” Kallie replied, drawing Cash’s attention back to herself. “We can gris-gris that small dick into reality. Lay a shrivel package trick on you. How about that?” pg. 30
The bad news is, the burglars admit to witnessing Jackson being beaten and buried alive an hour away in Chacahoula. Kallie refuses to believe he is dead and will not give up on finding him alive. She gets them to give her their location and all four women go off to do what they do best to rescue Jackson.

The thing that stands out the most in this book are the women and their incredible strength and their relationships with one another. The dialog I enjoyed the most between Kallie and Belladonna and Divinity and Gabriel. The female characters in this series really do steal the show. They are so strong, so confident, have such a sense of right and wrong, and you genuinely care about them even if they are coming from very different perspectives. They are snarky but humorously so, never mean spirited. And the affectionate snarky banter between Kallie and Belladonna just makes you all that much more charmed by them both and you feel the love between them. When playing rock-paper-scissors to determine who would get the shower first after one nasty dirty brawl with loas and burglars:
Kallie’s scissors won over Belladonna’s paper, so she eyed her friend suspiciously. “Did you just let me win?”

“What? Me?” Belladonna shook her head, her blue and black curls swaying. “Hoodoo, please. Why would I do that? It’s not like you’ve been rolling around in the mud or chasing judgmental chickens or going five rounds with death or anything.” She flapped a hand at Kallie. “Get over yourself, girl.”

Grinning, Kallie stretched across the seat and planted a kiss on Belladonna’s cheek. “You’re the best friend ever.”

“Again, stating the obvious.” But a pleased smile lit her face. pg. 200
The storyline we get of more of Kallie’s cousin, Jackson, and his backstory is awesome! I had no idea how things would turn out, where events were going and I was so pleased with what Ms. Phoenix did with his character development. Not only are Kallie, Belladonna, Divinity & Gabriel on the hunt for Jackson, but it is quickly discovered that magic has completely gone wonky. Hoodoos, conjurers, voodooists, and voodooiennes magic have all gone awry and fear of what could happen is high. Some of the backfired magic results in awful tragedy, and some of it simply harmless, but creepy!
Addie watched from her front porch, hands on the hips of her bluebell-printed sundress, as the scarecrow—missing one black button eye—plowed straight into the palm tree near the cracked sidewalk leading up to the steps, bounced, then fell into a heap of faded cloth and straw on the lawn.

“One of your backfires?”

Addie nodded. “At least I think so. The result of a spell I fixed this morning for good health—of all things.”

“Whatcha gonna do about that?” John nodded his head at her yard.

Addie sighed as the scarecrow heap twitched and rustled as though the straw were crawling with beetles, then pulled itself up onto its straw feet. Again.

“Ain’t a whole helluva lot I can do without laying a few tricks,” she said. “I thought about burning it. But I couldn’t imagine what I’d do if it started screaming.” pg. 258
Of course, the beautiful fine nomad that is Layne Valin re-enters the story despite his attempt to head back to New Orleans for his best friend’s funeral services. Once Kallie and Layne unexpectedly reunite, the heady tension between the two is combustible. And of course our favorite little “pixie-leprachaun-devil”, Layne’s ex-wife, McKenna joins in on the action as her skills are needed. The tension between Kallie and McKenna might be just as combustible as well, but certainly not in the same way as with Layne:
As Kallie and McKenna tried to murder each other with increasingly strained and saccharine Die bitch die smiles, Belladonna piped up with, “Speaking of tiny skivvies, I think that’s what you both should wear during your inevitable cage fight. We can even call your sure-to-be-epic battle the Die-You in the Bayou. Sell tickets.” pg. 277

So much happened in the previous book, and Ms Phoenix is brilliant when it comes to intertwining the events from Black Dust Mambo in to this story carefully throughout so that it flows naturally. You are never given too much information than you can handle, and the story plays out seemingly effortlessly. While you are reading this new book, you are also given a refresher in small doses. You will also be satisfied with the romance element of this book, as it’s played out very nicely and there is some element of resolution and possibility that will make all you Layne fans vera vera happy!

This series is incredible and if Black Heart Loa is any indication of how the series will grow, you will really miss out by not picking this up. For me, this book was perfection in Dark Urban Fantasy. Start with Black Dust Mambo, this book should not be read stand-alone, and you will thank me. I promise!