Blackwell: Alexandria Weis/ Luca Astor
Let the competition begin as two friends vie for the attention of one young woman and things between them become tense. Magnus Blackwell and Jacob O’Connor are from two different worlds, yet they seem to blend into one namely the world that Magnus created for both. Rich, arrogant, handsome and dangerous to a fault, Magnus comes across as confident, self-assured and will go up against anyone including his overbearing, critical and judgmental father to get his point across and what he wants. Their chance meeting at Harvard in a class geared to teach them the art of architecture forms an unholy alliance between these two as Jacob becomes his friend and Magnus his mentor teaching him how to delve into the world of women, wealth and fun. Yet, Jacob seems more centered in getting ahead in his field and Magnus manages to skirt classes and gets Jacob to cover for him. But meeting Frances a Radcliff student will send them on a collision course that might take one of them down. Egos are high, and forces control them in different ways and a friendship will fray like the strings on a violin that come apart from too much use or a spool of wool that seems worn.
When Frances and Jacob connect, and their relationship becomes serious, Magnus will not stop until he gets her back, sees her in his bed and destroys Jacob. Learning that Magnus is not faithful to her sent her into the arms of Jacob at first as a friend and then more. But Magnus is cold, lacks emotions and when you see his image on the cover it reveals it all. Steel eyes, cold demeanor, handsome, and yet you can feel the cunning and danger as a chill pass over your body just looking at him and Jacob will learn the wrath of this man, but will he survive?
The anger within Magnus comes out loud and clear as he enters the where the wedding between Jacob and Frances will take place and his resentment that he is not the one walking down with her. Linda his date is overpowering and yet he will demean her in every way allowing her to think she is special.
Magnus moves to New Orleans and we learn about the carnal pleasures of the city, the architecture graphically described and his meeting with Oscar Wilde who opens new avenues of deceptions, deceits and lude and lascivious pleasures that are described to entice any man looking to cheat on his wife or just find different ways to get pleasure. Magnus wants to learn more about voodoo and the experience holding Madame Simone’s cane at the brothel and taking one of her girls in a banal and carnal way leads her to believe that he is looking for some way to take revenge on a friend and his using these girls as an outlet to release his frustrations. The conversation centers around the true definitions of sins and how one either gets absolved, learns to deal with them, how your soul comes into play and his experience with Oscar seeing a voodoo ritual while thinking about how he will retake what he feels belongs to him: Frances.
Loyalties and friendships are sometimes more sacred than the family relationships in some cases. As you enter a world filled with opulence, violence, distrust, hate and revenge you will learn what happens when one man vies for the love and attention of a woman named Frances and another wins her hand in marriage. Magnus Blackwell rich, arrogant, affluent and self-assured with no qualms about flaunting his money and his haunting good looks finds it hard to understand that a young woman a graduate from Radcliff would dare to choose someone beneath his status and hers over him. Jacob O’Connor is smart, and handsome and is studying at Harvard to become an architect. But Magnus will do anything to satisfy his male needs at any cost to the poor female that he engages with. Going to whore houses and taking these women anyway he wants, he finds himself wondering what he must do to get Frances for his own and when he loses the battle how he will act to get her back no matter what he must do or who gets hurt or worse as a result.
The setting is New Orleans as we meet one of the most revered writers and authors of all times Oscar Wilde who befriends Magnus, takes him under his wing and introduces him to the world of voodoo magic, women and the powerful methods of cruelty and corruption that becomes his life. Unable to deal with the realities of what happened he buries himself deep within this world, learns the power of the juju cane and steals it right out of the hands of the woman who tried to make him understand the power of hate and the benefit of goodness and forgiveness which eludes him throughout the novel. When money and wealth come into play sometimes people lose their perspective and find themselves under the spell of another person’s guise as they slowly and methodically want to take you down although on the outside they are pretending to give you support, money and much more.
Frances goes to town and instead of buying Jacob something from one of the shops she spies a store with beautiful ribbons and enters meeting Regina someone that is also attached to Magnus in a different way. When she enlightens her about her story and how she got the shop Frances immediately breaks her confidence by telling Jacob and this might be the downfall of not only Jacob and Frances but an innocent victim too. As he refuses to believe what she is so certain about, accepts more invitations from him knowing he is still in love with his wife and rather than distance himself and listen to Frances he gets buried even more by Magnus. Voodoo, magic, demented behavior and one man so obsessed with one woman he is about to blindside himself as both Magnus and Jacob vie to keep Frances within their sites, but which one will succeed?
Our guest author in this novel Oscar Wilde wrote the picture of Dorian Gray and it focuses on the changes of a man so vain, so self-absorbed and no longer good and kind. It is a battle between good and evil as the portrait of this man hangs on a wall and as his inner soul deteriorates so does the picture and the outer soul of the man. At the end the once handsome face becomes hideous and grotesque. Comparing Magnus to this main character in his book fuels the fires within him even more and the fact that he has the juju baton or cane to help him with his quest to conquer Frances does not change the fact that his portrait might change the same way Dorian’s did. When Jacob leaves Frances do to something for Magnus what happens next will alter his world forever. Evil strikes, death is within his reach and the end result only one will remain but which one and who?
When the truth about what happened to Frances comes out will Jacob understand what really occurred and when the end is finalized and the funeral is done where will he go and what happens that sends Magnus on a path to further destroy him? Things change for Jacob as he goes to work for the Railroad and then decides to return to Boston and accepts Magnus’s offer of a job and home. But, with the juju baton now will he put his anger aside or will he use it for revenge? Getting to know Katie Blackwell you realize that she is no different than Magnus as the author’s created a carbon copy of him to make his own peace in the world.
As Jacob gets to know Katie and lives with Magnus for a while, she decides to summon the spirits and do a séance that will not only change how Magnus views her, but Jacob will learn the harsh truth about the night his wife was killed. Revenge can happen at any time, but will it bring someone peace? Will revenge and hate consume Jacob, or will he use the juju baton for good? As Magnus learns more about Katie’s powers and finds himself angered that she wants Jacob to remain in their home until she feels he is well enough to leave and stay for their one year anniversary party, the authors throw a curve or deadly curve you just won’t anticipate or forget.
As the dancers are enjoying the food and the drinks and Katie and Magnus are about to celebrate their one-year nuptials something happens that will put more than just a dark cloud on the event but will the guests realize it? What snaps within Jacob? Will he ever find peace, or will he turn out to be another Blackwell? Enter the room as Katie conjures up the spirits. Find out who she sees, Magnus, Mrs. Mann his own special assistant and Jacob all see someone that night. As Katie explains it is someone close to each one of them but when she wants to read more about the spirits and gathers her books from her old room the reactions, she gets from Magnus us frightening. Submission to his every whim and will is the only way to survive with him but what happens at the end will allow readers to wonder if the authors are going to write a sequel. Is what we think happened final? Two men, one woman a Victorian society, a curse, a baton, changeling stones like mood rings that change with her disposition and mood: The eyes of the dragon on the stone changed but to what color? The authors created a plot that is filled with revenge, redemption, hate, justice but of a different kind, sadness, despair and one man named Jacob O’Connor that will stop at nothing to take aim at the one man who took away his Frances, but will that be enough?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine