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Posts Tagged ‘Nalo Hopkinson’

Last weekend when I visited my local comic book shop, I got a terrific surprise. Nalo Hopkinson, the award-winning SF and historical author, is writing House of Whispers for D. C. Comics. House of Whispers follows the tradition of the equally award-winning Sandman, which introduced Neil Gaiman to the world. I was immediately captured by how Hopkinson drew on her Jamaican heritage. It’s much in the spirit of Gaiman’s mythic approach, yet wonderfully distinct.

It appears the supernatural cast here will spring from Voodoo lore of the Caribbean and Deep South. The main story focuses on a loa named Erzulie. Loas are sometimes referred to as if they were gods and goddesses, but the tales make them more like angels who move between the mortal world and the creator god, Bondiye.

In Erzulie’s palace, we quickly encounter a significant reptilian character. Uncle Monday is a loa from the same clan as Erzulie. However, he’s also one of those great figures who may originally have been a real person. The story goes that Uncle Monday was a shaman in Africa. Captured and brought to South Carolina, he was meant to be sold as a slave but escaped his bonds and fled to Florida. There he found refuge with the Seminole Indians, a tribe who resisted white colonization and took in many escaped African slaves.

In his native land, the shaman specialized in crocodile magic, which was very compatible with the natives’ alligator magic. Even though the loas told the shaman that conquest was inevitable, he vowed that he would never submit to slavery. Instead, he intended to transform himself into an alligator. In that guise, he would wait for better times.

So the Seminole tribe prepared for a great ritual. Amid much drumming, the shaman danced. His legs began to shrink. His skin turned scaly. His head sloped into an alligator’s toothy maw. Uncle Monday bellowed, making the waters tremble. Alligators came in answer to his call. There were dozens, then hundreds, then thousands!

The alligators formed an aisle. Uncle Monday was now the biggest one of all. He strolled down to the water. The other alligators followed him. According to Voodoo lore, Uncle Monday still lives in the murky swamps of Florida. Sometimes he comes out and takes on the form of a man, to wander the world and check on how the mortals are doing. Whenever he returns, all the alligators in the area start to bellow and carry on. That’s how people know that Uncle Monday is still alive and well in the swamp.

With only one issue of House of Whispers, it’s hard to know if Uncle Monday will be a benevolent or malevolent loa. His appearance thus far is certainly creepy. If you’re a fan of horror or urban fantasy, House of Whispers should be worth a read.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

 

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