My Soul to Take by Tananarive Due
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
My Soul to Take by Tananarive Due is the fourth, and perhaps, final installment of her African Immortals series. I have truly enjoyed this series, and as I anticipated the release of My Soul to Take I read several of her other novels (see my reviews).
The African Immortals Series, is a mixture of Sci-Fi and the paranormal, mixed with religious undertones that mix biblical stories with immortal beings in a good vs. evil battle. The series main character is Fana, whom we were first introduced to as an infant in My Soul to Keep (the first installment). Prophecy would have it (as was revealed in Blood Colony) that she would wed Michel, heir to Sanctus Cruor. Fana represents good, in that she wants to use her blood, which has tremendous healing power, to heal the world. Michel, who represents evil, wants to cleanse the world and use mortals as a sacrificial gift. According to the written word, the two are to “become one” for the prophecy to be fulfilled.
When I began My Soul to Take, the first thing that caught my eye was the year 2016. My first thought was okay, ten years have passed, but as I continued to read, this became a point of contention for me, which I will explain in a bit. The story opens up with Carlos Harris who is in Puerto Rico searching for his missing mother. I didn’t remember a character named Carlos from the previous books, but that was okay. To my surprise, Ms. Due decided to introduce characters from another novel of hers titled Joplin’s Ghost. A book I simply loved and highly recommend. Carlos Harris is the husband of a musical protégé by the name of Phoenix. In Joplin’s Ghost, Phoenix had a supernatural encounter with the ghost of renowned Ragtime entertainer Scott Joplin. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to see how Due was going to incorporate these two in the living blood storyline.
I am not sure if I over-anticipated this novel, if it was the period of time between the last installment (Blood Colony, 2008), or that 2016 date that kept gnawing at me, but I was continuously distracted as I read the book. The year, the year, the year…okay, the reason the year holds so much significance for me is because it was engrained in my mind that in Blood Colony, Fana, whom I believe was seventeen at the time, asked Michel to give her ten years and then she would marry him. Blood Colony began with a year also, 2005. That’s at least ten years right? Well this is where I became confused. There is a part in My Soul to Take where Fana, who is now about eighteen, speaks about a year having passed and it is time to honor her commitment to Michel. Pump the brakes! Was the engagement one year or ten years, and if only one year, how did we get to the year 2016; and if ten years, what happened in the previous nine years, and why isn’t Fana twenty-seven? This takes me back to the beginning, because the story began around 1997, which would make Fana about eighteen in the year 2016, but only seven or eight during the Blood Colony era (scratching my head). Now throw Phoenix and Carlos into the mix, and I’m thinking, what was the timeframe for that story, “Oh boy!”
My Soul to Take, by no means is a dud, but it didn’t measure up to my expectations either. Phoenix and Carlos never felt right in the story, and didn’t seem to add much to the main plot. There was a lot of focus on the cat and mouse games of Michel and Fana, and although I didn’t want them to marry, I enjoyed how Due was able to soften my disdain for him. The story included many of my favorites, like Dawit and Jessica—Fana’s parents; the blood brothers, Fasilidas, Teka, Mahmoud, and others, as well as Fana’s friend’s Johnny and Caitlin. Perhaps I secretly wanted the story to pick-up where it left off, and for Johnny to rush in and save the day.
As I turned the last page there were still some unresolved matters and I wasn’t quite sure what really became of Fana and Michel at the end. Is Ms. Due setting the stage for another installment, or is this really the end? But isn’t that what great storytelling is all about? The story may not go in the direction we want it to go, but when we turn the last page there is still a yearning for more. I truly wish that someone like George Lucas would pick-up this series and transform it into an epic trilogy. My Soul to Take will make for some awesome book club discussions, of which I would love to participate in one. Maybe Ms. Due can put together a live on-line discussion similar to the Facebook live chats Oprah Winfrey conducted for her Lifeclass show. This would give all of Due's faithful readers a chance to have an open dialog about the series, and this installment in particular. I think it would be a huge success.
My final rating for My Soul to Take is 3.5,mainly because I had to pull out my copy of Blood Colony to connect the dots. Aha! The introduction began in 2005, but chapter one was set in the year 2015. Whew! I feel so much better. Still, I need to better understand what happened to make Fana concede on her demand for a ten year engagement…was it because Michel was playing dirty and casting down plagues, or was it his threats to begin the cleansing? Maybe in a few months I will go back and reread My Soul to Take. If so, I will definitely reconsider my rating.
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