...a wild and wonderful debut, teeming with music, magic, family and art...This book is gorgeously written, with prose I wanted to eat off the page: Music sounds 'like giant rose petals unfurling in the air, smooth and fragrant'; boats are 'docked on the Mississippi, their varicolored sails furled against the wind like birds sleeping with their heads under their wings'...The effervescent invention of Jennings’s work is dazzling; it was absolute pleasure to have no idea where the book would go from one page to the next...It’s perhaps odd to love the middle of a book more than the end, but that was the case here...The book is at its best when it keeps pulling colorful silk rabbits out of its sly and stylish hats, but wrapping up the whole proved less satisfying...There were so many beautiful, evocative elements introduced, only to be abandoned or given short shrift when I expected them to weave together into something surpassing its parts...When I think back on reading it, though, I feel as if I’m seeing sound and hearing colors, overwhelmed by the beating heart and joy of it all.
From the glorious cover and the hook in the back of book text, The Ballad of Perilous Graves gets off on the right foot: a failed magician, a New Orleans that runs on the magic of song, and a quest that requires facing off against the Haint of all Haints...Everything about this description is true—but like Nola herself, there are so many more secrets to uncover in Alex Jannings’s gorgeous new novel...You have to dance into the first pages and let the city carry you, even while she’s threatened by the Storm, the spirit of every hurricane that New Orleans has ever faced...The novel ends—but like life, it doesn’t. We leave the characters in a new and different place, but there are stories yet to tell, and fates yet to be resolved. The Storm will always return, after all, and it will be a true delight to revisit Nola if she comes back around again for an encore.
The soul of New Orleans is in danger, and it’ll take everything to save the city...In Alex Jennings’ spectacular debut, the city of New Orleans is transformed into a magical city where musical creatures and spirits, mages, and more flourish within the city’s limits...So, while the New Orleans in Jennings’ book is totally fantastical, it doesn’t really read that way...It reads like the authentic New Orleans—the place beneath what visitors and tourists see...Jennings takes the architecture, art, people, music, and traditions that make New Orleans and shows the magic connecting them while weaving a story about how important New Orleans is...There were some moments where I couldn’t tell why something was getting such detailed attention, but in the end, it always made sense...Knowing how a person moves through New Orleans is essential because they are New Orleans and just as significant a factor in the story as the city itself...I couldn’t tell which parts of Jennings’s prose I loved the most: how he described music’s power over people or how he depicted New Orleans showcasing all the history and trauma of a place in a way that still held so much joy and hope...The Ballad of Perilous Graves reads like a love letter to the city and a tour guide of New Orleans’s spiritual and musical side.