Updated: Feb 25
If you've read WILD SEED by Octavia E. Butler and have been hunting for books that are just as good and in a similar vein, it's my pleasure to introduce you last week's read MY SOUL TO KEEP by Tananarive Due.
Rarely does a book fill me with so many complicated emotions -- MY SOUL TO KEEP had me biting my nails, yelling at the pages, and absolutely swooning over the characters. Putting this right up front -- MY SOUL TO KEEP is a quiet sort of horror story that is deeply character driven and will refuse you the comfort of black and white morality in favor of the messiness of humanity. Isn't grey morality fun? (Well, maybe only in books.)
Throughout the book, we follow our leads -- the enigmatic and charismatic David ("Dawit"), a man who's been sworn to protect the secret of the sect of immortals he belongs to and Jessica, his wife and a brilliant journalist who unfortunately (for her) does not know who her husband really is. As Due wraps us into the layers of deception David must weave in order to keep his secret, a brilliant thing starts to happen. . .the horror of the story begins to creep in and you really start to feel the desperate sense of urgency that Jessica's been fostering from the get go. Due's masterful with her prose -- this novel is strikingly vivid and easy to sink your proverbial teeth into and imagine exactly what's happening at any given moment.
Due makes judicious use of perspectives by switching between primarily David's and Jessica's throughout the book. By doing this, I got a crystal clear understanding of who these deeply complicated, dynamic characters are. David's charm is a carefully constructed protective response to what he truly is, whereas Jessica's faith in doing what she believes is right ultimately affects not only her fate and her family's, but David and his sect of immortals as well. Together, the two work beautifully as foils to each other in a dynamic very much similar to the one in WILD SEED between Doro and Anyanwu. David wants to have his cake and eat it too, but has neglected to factor in the fact that Jessica is her own woman, with her own dreams and desires. Reading their contentious (at times), sexy (at times) and sweet (also at times) relationship had me all up in my feels. First off, it made me grateful that my person isn't a homicidal, immortal killer, but also because Due did such an incredible job at making the tender moments between Jessica and David feel real. In fact, Due's so good at those moments, I found it hard to be angry with David for his transgressions (but I'm a sucker for bad boys with manners in books!) of which there were many. Believe me, if you're anything like me a 'verbal reader' you will definitely be yelling at him for the choices he makes every few pages. But you'll also probably get just a lil swoon-y because he is the ultimate bad-boy with manners book boyfriend for real.