Review: Age of Voodoo / Author: James Lovegrove / Publisher: Solaris / Release Date: February 26th
In recent years, the market has become flooded with books, comics, boardgames and other media that feature the undead in one form or other – so much so that it's all to easy to take the poor shamblers and groaners for granted. Age of Voodoo changes all that with a back-to-basics, grassroots zombie tale that faces the land of the dead with guns blazing. A novel about a world in which the gods of the Vodou faith take an active interest in the affairs of man and what that means for the future of mankind.
The main protagonist is Lex Dove, an ex-government assassin who has gotten out of the old game and is living it up in the Caribbean. He's drafted back into action when an old contact offers him a huge wad of cash to help out a squad of American commandos called Team Thirteen, who are tasked with dealing with matters beyond the norm. Things go from bad to worse and it swiftly becomes apparent that some very bad voodoo is going on in a seemingly abandoned government facility.
The dynamics of this often sensationalised faith are handled in a strong and believable way. This isn’t Live and Let Die – there’s much more balance to it all, though style trumps substance every time. The Caribbean provides an exotic backdrop to the action, and all of the characters are interesting and it is very easy to find yourself caring about their fate.
Lovegrove has carefully assembled a list of storytelling components that cannot fail to deliver. Rogue voodoo priests? Check. Naive but brilliant scientists who don’t consider how badly things can go wrong? Check. Sexy voodoo priestesses? Check. A squad of disposable goons with cool stories and big guns? Check. A British super-spy and his dumb sidekick? It’s all there, and it all works. Lovegrove has created an uncaring world where forgotten gods and monsters lie in wait to devour humanity, and he’s done so whilst whistling the James Bond theme tune. This is smooth, addictive and an amazing ride. If you scratch the surface of the writing, there is plenty of depth and subtext, but it's the dumb fun of having spies fighting monsters that will keep you enthralled throughout.