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D.S. Quinton
A Grimoire Dark: A Supernatural Thriller (The Spirit Hunter Series Book 1)
D.S. Quinton, author
An Orphan Girl. A Hellish Spirit. A fight for more than just her life... New Orleans, 1963. When Del Larouche leaves the St. Augustine orphanage, she is desperate to build a normal life for herself and Jimmy, the mentally handicapped boy she spent years protecting. But when a hellish spirit is raised from the dark swamps, unimaginable horrors begin to prey on the lost souls of the Crescent City, and Del’s soul is the most coveted. When she learns the truth of her secret heritage, she is faced with a choice: forego the gift she was born with for the normal life she dreams of or embrace her birthright and the dark consequences that follow. A Grimoire Dark is the spine-tingling first book in The Spirit Hunter supernatural thriller series. If you like black magic, strong female protagonists, and urban legends, then you’ll love this chilling tale.
Set in early-1960’s Louisiana, the first installment in Quinton’s Spirit Hunter series follows Delphine Larouche – known as Del – as she leaves the St. Augustine orphanage with Jimmy, a ten-year-old boy with mental disabilities that she has taken under her wing. Del, an orphan herself, dreams of becoming a reporter and saving enough money for a house, but her life is disrupted when she tags along with Frank, a private investigator, on a call. Bodies are turning up in the swamp, and soon she’s caught up in trying to identify the source of the killings. Skeptical of Vodou (which she calls "Voodoo"), Del believes it might be a serial killer, but it soon becomes evident that dark magic is terrorizing the community and the dead themselves are rising.

Quinton offers evocative descriptions of an old New Orleans where in the cemeteries “Above-ground crypts, white as decaying bone, lay in repose in close, straight rows,” and he’s adept at crafting creepy images that stay with the reader, such as a skull that appears to “have been licked clean.” The novel is alive with the fascinating particulars of Vodou, such as gris charms and dolls that bite, though some everyday period and personality details that would help anchor key characters like Jimmy and Frank come a little too late.

Some readers may find it curious and distracting that some of the characters are written speaking in a strong Creole dialect (“I got isshoo’s a’right”) especially as Del, who grew up in the same region, does not do so herself. Structurally, the novel is sound, though it takes a while for the story to get going, with many violent acts being committed while the cast gets introduced and Del and Frank spin their wheels. Those who enjoy evocative prose and taking their time in a richly atmospheric magical world will enjoy this series kickoff.

Takeaway: Vodou with a touch of noir in this promising bayou urban fantasy.

Great for fans of: Theophilus Monroe, Adrian Phoenix’s Black Dust Mambo, John Everson’s Voodoo Heart.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A