The House of Erzulie tells the eerily intertwined stories of an ill-fated young couple in the 1850s and the troubled historian who discovers their writings in the present day.
Emilie St. Ange, the daughter of a Creole slave-owning family in Louisiana, rebels against her parents’ values by embracing spiritualism, women’s rights, and the abolition of slavery. Isidore, her biracial, French-born husband, is an educated man who is horrified by the brutalities of plantation life and becomes unhinged by an obsessive affair with a notorious New Orleans vodou practitioner.
Emilie’s and Isidore’s letters and journals are interspersed with sections narrated by Lydia Mueller, an architectural historian whose fragile mental health further deteriorates as she reads.
Imbued with a sense of the uncanny and the surreal, The House of Erzulie also alludes to the very real horrors of slavery, and makes a significant contribution to the literature of the U.S. South, particularly the tradition of the African-American Gothic novel.
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Editors' Choice: Historical Novels Review
The Center for Trauma & Resilience Inclusiveness Book Club selection
Historical Novels Review; Library Journal; Booklist; Foreword Reviews, Interminable Rambling
Advance coverage: 10 Most Anticipated Books By Women Of Color To Read In 2018 (Watch Jaro); 20 Books by Women to Look for in 2018 (She Geeks Out); 25 Fiction Books You Must Read in 2018 (Bitch Media); Adult Fiction and Nonfiction Read-Along Book Pairings (Book Riot); Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018 (Electric Literature); Most-Anticipated Books for February (The Millions); These New and Upcoming Books by Black Authors Will Give You Life in These Perilous Times (The Root)
The Nervous Breakdown self-interview
Read to Write Stories: The Slide That Passes Through Two Dark Rooms: An interview with Kirsten Imani Kasai
Books Q&A with Deborah Kalb: "I wanted to examine the distressing history of the hierarchical race and caste systems of the American South during Antebellum times and how they influenced our conceptions of privilege, belonging and identity today."
PRAISE FOR THE HOUSE OF ERZULIE
"Kirsten Imani Kasai makes the macabre beautiful. She crafts a story that explores superficial scares while also delving into more complex topics like generational trauma and the horrors of slavery. The House of Erzulie makes you wonder what truly haunts our history, and how, if ever, we can escape it." Foreword Reviews
Books that Shook Us
"Kasai explores the horrors of slavery and its legacy in this gothic tale that tingles on the verge of psychological horror." Library Journal
"Compelling and grim ... a propulsive read, full of commentary on ethnic identity, mental illness, and power. " Booklist
"The House of Erzulie is a poetic exploration of the mysteries of love and desire; Kasai gives voice to the specters haunting the silences in marriages, and the horror that grows from secrets kept between husbands and wives. Intriguing and compelling at every turn, the novel confronts an awful truth about slavery and brings to light a little discussed fact of African American history. Provocative and enlightening, this novel is a pleasure to read." Maisha L. Wester
"In The House of Erzulie, Kirsten Imani Kasai blurs the edges between dream and reality, madness and magic, beauty and brutality, darkness and desire, with an unflinching eye and lush, deeply visceral language. This book had me mesmerized, completely under its spell." Gayle Brandeis, author of The Art of Misdiagnosis and The Selfless Bliss of the Body
"From the first present day voice of Lydia Mueller, to the authentic, wonderful voices/letters of Emilie, her husband Isidore, Creole plantation slave owners in the 1850s, Louisiana- each voice drew me into the complex realities of that time. From sensuality/passion to the stark cruelties of slavery, Kasai weaves her word magic from the first page to the final page. You will enter this world, and emerge changed—that kind of magic." Alma Luz Villanueva, poet, short story writer, and novelist
ICE SONG (Book One)
2009, Del Rey/Random House
Sorykah Minuit is a scholar, engineer and the only woman aboard an ice-drilling submarine in the frozen land of the Sigue. No one knows is that she's also a Trader who can switch biological genders a rare genetic trait met with fascination, superstition, harassment or death. Sorykah’s infant twins share her ability. When a reclusive madman known as the Collector abducts the babies to use in his dreadful experiments, Sorykah and her male alter-ego, Soryk, embark on a dangerous odyssey through icy wastes and a primeval forest to get them back.
Best Adult Books for High Schoolers , School Library Journal
Best Published Science-Fiction/Fantasy, San Diego Book Awards
PRAISE FOR ICE SONG
"I'm loving it - it's like furry sexy biopunk arctic witchery. Really." Annalee Newitz, i09.com
"A near-perfect combination of fantasy, great storytelling and social commentary." Philadelphia Gay News
"Those looking for a powerful and provocative female voice in their fantasy reading fare should definitely pick up this stellar debut ... addictively readable, melancholic writing style..." Paul Goat Allen, Barnes & Noble
"A deeply lyrical and sublimely haunting narrative powers this intriguing fusion of science fiction, fantasy and subtle social commentary." Barnes & Noble Feature Pick
"A boldly adventurous tale depicting a richly detailed world."
"Told in a quiet, sometimes almost dreamlike style reminiscent of fairy tales (though at times disturbing ones), Ice Song will appeal to teens interested in questions of identity and difference." School Library Journal
"Ice Song was fabulous ... a journey story of the sort female narrators rarely experience." Hathor's Legacy
"Reminiscent of Ursula Le Guin's paradigm-shattering The Left Hand of Darkness, this piercingly moving story belongs in most fantasy collections." Library Journal
"Hard to put down...an unstoppable force [that] ends with a bang." Locus Magazine (October 2009)
"Moody and slightly gruesome, this book is an original take on the hero's journey." Oxford Library Book Reviews
TATTOO (Book Two)
2011, Del Rey/Random House
Sorykah has rescued her infant twins from mad Matuk the Collector. Her children are safe. She believes her fight is over but darker, more evil forces have been unleashed. Those forces—led by the Collector’s son—stretch from the glittering capital city to the murky depths of the frozen Sigue, where the ink of mutant octameroons is harvested to make addictive, aphrodisiac tattoos. Bitter enemies trapped within a single skin, Sorykah and Soryk are soon drawn into a sinister web of death and deceit as they try to save those who helped them.2011, Del Rey/
E-book includes four bonus short stories!
PRAISE FOR TATTOO
"Tattoo revels in the lushly erotic while remaining aware of the costs of addiction and self-indulgence." Publisher's Weekly
"Ursula Le Guin fans rejoice: Kirsten Imani Kasai's Tattoo—her follow up to 2009's brilliant Ice Song — tackles the same kind of paradigm-shifting worlds Le Guin did so well...The fact that there are addictive aphrodisiacal tattoos in the story is just a kinky
bonus." The Advocate
"Tattoo raises the stakes considerably: the writing is stronger, more varied in its effects, the situations thought-provoking and sometimes disturbing, while her characters continue to be highly individual and interesting...As far as I can tell, this novel is the most underrated of 2011, not receiving nearly enough attention. Comparisons to Ursula K. Le Guin, Tanith Lee, and Angela Carter are well-deserved, given the kinetic energy of Kasai’s style and her unique imagination." Jeff VanderMeer, Locus Magazine
"Kasai’s Ice Song and Tattoo are so much more than just a fusion of visionary science fiction and folklore-powered fantasy – they’re deeply reflective societal self-examination. And, trust me, that reflection in the mirror isn’t pretty...Powered by a cast of emotionally compelling and memorable characters and a storyline impressively tapestried with provocative themes and ideas,Tattoo is essentially deeply philosophical and poetic contemplation cloaked in visionary science fiction...Readers looking for a strong new female voice in science fiction/fantasy should seek out and read Kirsten Imani Kasai asap." Paul Goat Allen, Unabashedly Bookish
"Very visual and quite dark, Tattoo just like its predecessor explores the corporate greed and the world of vice in a setting similar to Alaska during Gold Rush...The characters feel like they just stepped out from Rocky Horror Show - vivid, dramatic and always askew." Nocturnal Book Reviews