Friday, October 12, 2012

[Review & Giveaway] Bad Juju by Dina Rae

Title: Bad Juju
Author: Dina Rae
Genre: Dark, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense, Thriller, Young-Adult, (R-Rated although teens would love it)
Publisher: Amazon
Words: 93,000


Amazon |

Book Description:

Lucien Nazaire flees his Haitian homeland and meanders around the United States for decades.  He settles in a Wisconsin trailer park filled with elderly tenants.  He meets Jake, his teenage neighbor, and hires him for odd household jobs.  As their relationship progresses, Lucien invites the boy into the world of Voodoo.

Jake LaRue lives in foster care with his abusive uncle.  The Voodoo lessons give him a sense of power within an otherwise helpless situation.  Although the boy is a loner, he feels an instant connection with his classmate, Henry, and introduces him to Lucien.
Henry Novak has Asperger’s Syndrome.  He fixates on historical events, most recently the 2010 Haitian earthquake.  Like Jake, he becomes passionate about the dark side of Voodoo.  They learn how to cast spells on those they hate and lust, leading up to dire consequences.

Several months after the Haitian earthquake, Henry convinces his family to volunteer with their church in the island's reconstruction.  Their mission turns into a nightmare when he mysteriously walks off of the campsite.

Bad Juju is a balance of horror, romance, and literary fiction intended for ages fifteen and up.   Research about the Voodoo religion, shapeshifting, zombies, and possession and themes of redemption and loneliness emerge throughout the plot.

My Review:  Bad Juju is the perfect book for this time of year.  What's scarier than voodoo magic, dark bokors and zombies?  Dina gives you a look into the Haitian culture and the practice of voodo, enough to whet your appetite and look into it more.  

You really feel for the different characters in the book.  Poor Jake.  His home life is so awful. He lives in the trailer park with his aunt, uncle and niece.  Uncle Pete beats on the whole family.  He traumatizing his poor daughter, beating his wife until she is passed out.  This is a regular occurrence.  To get out of the house, Jake starts helping Lucien with odd jobs.  They become friends, and Jake learns what its like to have someone care about what happens to you, so unlike his circumstances at home.  Lucien has fled Haiti, and he eventually begins to teach Jake and his one friend, Henry in the way of voodoo.  

Henry has Asperger's Syndrome and he and Jake become friends after Henry takes on the school bully.  They meet in after school suspension.  Soon Henry and Jake are using dark voodoo to cast spells on those they feel have wronged them, and those they desire to physically want them.  As we know from most horror books, using dark magic rarely goes right, and forcing someone to want you by way of magic usually doesn't go well either.   The boys must learn the hard way that practicing dark magic comes back on you in the form of bad juju.

When Henry's parents, who are Evangelical missionaries, decide to go to Haiti to help rebuild after the 2010 earthquakes.  Lucien sees this as an opportunity for him to get his journal, full of his voodoo knowledge back to his family in Haiti, so that they might prosper.  Henry, is the perfect means of getting the journal back to his family.  But then, Henry disappears from camp and his parents have no idea where he is.  Lucien begins to lose control of everything when another bokor becomes involved.  Where is Henry?  Do the boys learn their lessen about dark magic?  Are they able to right things before it's too late?  Who is the other bokor and what does he want?  Will Lucien be able to keep the boys safe?  Find the answers to these questions and more by reading Bad Juju.

Dina Rae is a masterful story teller.  She makes you love her characters despite their imperfections.  You feel the horror at some of the things they do, knowing it's not going to end well.  At the same time, you can feel their hurt and anger and understand why they might act out.  You feel their loss and heartbreak.  You are literally sucked into the story.  The historical and cultural context in this book is well researched and explained really well.  I cannot wait to read more by Dina Rae.


Jake rolled out of bed and army crawled to the doorway.  Looking through the
opening that separated the door from the carpeting, he saw Leah’s head
bloodied.  She lay limp on the floor.  Pete stopped hitting her.  His whole
demeanor changed.  With a wolfish expression, he began to unbuckle his belt.
Rhianna’s screams got closer.  She must have darted to the other side of the
living room, putting her smack-dab in front of Jake’s bedroom door.  He could
now see her foot.  It partially blocked his view.  Shit!  Can’t get involved!
If I open the door…
“Pete, what the hell is a matter with you?  Stop it!  She’s passed out.  You
beat her into a coma, man!  And now you’re gonna…Sober up and think of what
you’re doing!  Right in front of your daughter!” T.J. yelled.

Is he suicidal?  Jake knew his uncle would make T.J. regret his words.  Like
Leah, T.J. was small.  He was filled with faults, but violence was not one of
them.  On perfect cue, Jake could hear his uncle’s bare fists hooking T.J. in
the jawbone.  Rhianna’s screams turned into full-blown hysteria.  The poor girl
was hyperventilating while desperately grasping Jake’s locked doorknob for
refuge.  I don’t want to be involved!  Go back to your closet and lay still!

“Jakey, Jakey, pwwweeeze!” Rhianna sobbed.
Jake couldn’t take her suffering any longer.  Quickly unlocking the door, he
grabbed the little girl and pulled her inside his room and then relocked the
The living room had grown eerily quiet.  Jake had a difficult time hearing while
Rhianna wailed.  “It’s okay now.  Try to be quiet,” he whispered, straining to
hear.  Nothing but silence was on the other side of his door.  His heart rate
doubled.  Always quiet before the storm.  Was it over?  Or was I next?  He slid
on his gym shoes, took a can of Comet cleaner from his bathroom, and crept up to
the only window in the room.  It was small, but Jake knew he could fit through.
Then came the sound he was waiting for.  Click, click, click.  Pete was
delicately trying to open the door.  He now knew it was locked.

About the Author:

Dina Rae is a new author here to stay.  As a former teacher, she brings an academic element to her work.  Her three novels, Halo of the Damned, The Last Degree, and Bad Juju weave research and suspense throughout the plots.  Her short story, Be Paranoid Be Prepared, is a prequel of sorts to The Last Degree, focusing on the James Martin character.  Dina also freelances for various entertainment blogs.
Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs outside of Chicago.  She is a Christian, an avid tennis player, movie buff, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories.  She has been interviewed numerous times in e-zines, websites, blogs, newspapers, and radio programs.  When she is not writing she is reading novels from her favorite authors Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Brad Thor, George R.R. Martin, and Preston & Childs. 

Website | Blog | Twitter: @haloofthedamned | The Last Degree | Halo of the Damned

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1 comment:

blcsdina said...

Thanks so much for reading my book and giving me a great review! Appreciate being a guest on your blog. Hope you find time to post your review on Amazon and Goodreads. Again, thanks. Dina Rae

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