(1997) S.P. Somtow, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk, 351pp, ISBN 0-575-06122-7
Readers of the short story of the same name from Somtow's collection last year, The Pavilion of Frozen Women, will know what to expect in this tale of Voodoo and Zombies in the American Civil War. Starring Walt Whitman, President Lincoln, Lord Byron and Edgar Allan Poe, among others, this is a story about freedom and slavery.
Cunningly presented as a string of stories-within-stories, this is a feast of some of Somtow's finest writing. There may be a tendency for some readers to get lost within the labyrinthine tales, but Somtow interjects the novel's present (1865) in his journey back to 1803 and beyond. The book makes its point without being 'preachy' though, as it points out, "Freedom's work is never done". Recommended.
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