My Soul to Keep

April 20, 2018 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, )

soulMy Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

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My Soul to Keep is another book I remember from my horror days. At the time, black writers and female writers were not well-represented in horror, so it was surprising to find a well-regarded book written by a black female author. I bought it and kept it for many years, but never got around to reading. Now, twenty years later, I found the time to read it, and I’m glad I did.

The story is about Jessica, a happily married journalist with a young daughter whose life is upturned when members of her family and friends wind up murdered. Despite her love of David, her husband, evidence keeps pointing back to him as a murderer, but what she finds there is far more significant, and far more revealing, than she would have expected. That revelation forces her to question her love for him, and the stability of her family.

The book is reminiscent of good ’90s horror. It focuses on character, plot, and development above all else, even though its themes are deeper than the standard fare of its time. For all the white male authors who dominated the genre, it’s refreshing to see a book from that time that presents a different perspective, but still fits in easily with the other books on the shelves.

The story trends more toward dark fantasy than horror, as Due’s story reveals something bigger than just an investigation into a serial killer. I don’t want to reveal too much, but the name of the series of books that starts with My Soul to Keep is a bit of a spoiler. I like how Due takes the story through these twists, without ignoring the threads that began the plot. By the end of the book, there were a few too many coincidences for me to keep from rolling my eyes, but Due’s prose and plot kept me reading enough to keep me up late to finish the story.

I was impressed with this book for several reasons, not the least of which is how well it holds up twenty years after its first publication. It could easily have been released today, among Jemisin’s and Okorafor’s classics, but it’s interesting to see how Due’s novel helped pave the way for those epic storytellers. After finishing My Soul to Keep, I went and ordered five other books of Due’s, and I can’t think of any higher praise for the author. This book is the first in a series of four, and I plan to move on the rest of the series immediately.

Started: January 27, 2018
Finished: February 6, 2018

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