The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri

July 2nd, 2015 Kimberly Review 58 Comments

2nd Jul
The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri
The Witch of Bourbon Street
by Suzanne Palmieri
Genres: Magical Realism, Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

When Frances Sorrow returns home to the now dilapidated Sorrow Estate to restore her birthright, she finds herself haunted by a 100-year-old mystery only she can unravel. Set amidst the charming chaos of The French Quarter and remote bayous of Tivoli Parish, Louisiana, Suzanne Palmieri’s The Witch of Bourbon Street weaves an unforgettable tale of mystery and magic. Situated deep in the bayou is the formerly opulent Sorrow Estate. Once home to a magical family, the Sorrows, it now lays in ruins, uninhabited since a series of murders in 1902 shocked the entire community. When Frances Green Sorrow is born, the family is on the brink of obscurity and the last remaining Sorrows cling to the hope that she is the one who will finally resurrect the glory of what once was. However, Frances has no wish to be the family’s savior. Disillusioned, she marries young, attempting an "ordinary life," and has a son, Jack. When her marriage fails and she loses custody of her boy, she runs away to live a quiet life on the dilapidated Sorrow Estate, where she practices solitary magic amid ghosts and gardens. But when Jack disappears, she is forced to rejoin the world she left behind and solve the century-old murder that casts a long shadow over Tivoli Parish and its inhabitants in order to find her son. The Witch of Bourbon Street is a story of love, family, redemption and forgiveness. It’s a story that bridges the nostalgia of time, and brings those that are separated back together again.

The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri offers a lush, Gothic tale wrapped in mystery, and magic. This was my first Palmieri book and her descriptive writing style is beautiful. The New Orleans setting and the series of unsolved murders drew me to this novel set in 1902. I would classify it as women’s fiction with a touch of magical realism.

Caffeinated Aspects:

  • Setting: Witches on Bourbon Street primarily takes place at Sorrow Estate set deep in the bayou of Tivoli Parish, Louisiana. The tale switches between the past and the present focusing on several characters and the murders of 1902. The landscape is lush and fascinating as we learn about the Sorrow family. The Sorrow Estate and the surrounding bayou where characters as well and I found myself longing to go there.
  • The family: What a colorful, dysfunctional family the Sorrow family is. Palmieri invites us in to this eccentric family sharing their beginnings in New Orleans from the murders to the troubles of present day. We get perspectives from Frances Green Sorrow who once embraced her families’ abilities and has since closed herself off from it. We learn her story as she suddenly wakes one day ready to embrace her gift and life once again. Then there is her young son Jack, who wants his parents back together again. We also get the perspective of Sippy, Frances’ secret. The characters are quirky and I was immediately drawn to them. Frances’ story was touching.
  • Magic: Herbal remedies, fortune telling, a shop on Bourbon Street and the Book of Sorrow add magical elements to this story. Crow, a bird who aids this family was an interesting creature. Then there are the ghosts who still linger on the bayou. I loved speaking with the ghosts and learning their secrets. Palmieri weaved her magic and even had me believing.
  • The Murders: Traveling back to 1902 and learning about the murders at the Sorrow Estate, and of the Nun accused of killing them and a still unsolved disappearance held me spellbound. We get some present day mystery too when a young child goes missing.
  • Romance: We learn of Frances’ on and off again romance with Jack’s father, their marriage and separation. This is a second chance romance filled with love, forgiveness and redemption. It was a subtle thread but an important one.
  • Standalone: The tale is a standalone and Palmieri wraps things up resolving both the past and present issues. I closed the book satisfied and smiling.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

  • Balance: The tale captivated me, but the different perspectives and time changes never really allowed me to lose myself within its pages. The first part of the book was a tad slow for me, and the last had me flipping the pages at warp speed. I wanted more details about certain characters and less about other things.
  • Language: While I actually loved this attention to detail, some may find it makes the reading cumbersome. Palmieri paid particular attention to the dialect of her characters. She brought us that rich southern New Orleans speech from the educated to the rural dialect of the bayou.
  • Characters: The characters are unique, and Frances’ story a painful one but as a mother, I had difficulty connected with some of her decisions. I loved Sippy and Jack. I do wish Jack’s father was fleshed out more, but with the past/present timeline, it was difficult to really get to know them all.

With a touch of magical realism, The Witch of Bourbon Street and its story of the Sorrow family delighted me. Suzanne Palmieri is an author whose works I will continue to explore.

About Suzanne Palmieri

Suzanne Palmieri is the author of The Witch of Bourbon Street, The Witch of Belladonna Bay, and The Witch of Little Italy. She is also the co-author (as Suzanne Hayes) of Empire Girls and I’ll Be Seeing You. Writer. Lost Witch. Mermaid.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw and Howler. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Find @kimbacaffeinate on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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58 Responses to “The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri”

  1. Jeann

    The magic and the witchy elements in this one sounds like a lot of fun Kimba! I hadn’t heard of this one, great review.

  2. dolorah

    This sounds interesting. I’ll have to check it out and hope it is to my liking. I like the idea of blending magical realism with women’s fiction. plus plus 🙂

  3. Cyn

    Sounds like an interesting read, despite the few flaws! I like that magical realism is starting to be a bigger than (or at least I’m noticing it more, haha).
    I’m dying to go to New Orleans! Thanks for the review, Kim!

  4. Lindy

    I love the book cover for this story! Witches is something that I have enjoyed reading about (my favorite is Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour Series). The magic and mysterious murders sound interesting. However, I agree that to much detail in a story can be cumbersome, and it’s difficult when you don’t connect with the characters. I’m glad that you ended up enjoying this one overall.

  5. Diana

    Oooh, this one looks fantastic. I loved the Witch of Little Italy and have been meaning to pick up another one of Susanne’s books. I will definitely add this one to the list.

  6. Benish

    I like the sound of this one, I haven’t read many books about witches lately and this one sounds intriguing – loved your review 🙂

  7. Aubrey Wynne

    I loved New Orleans and stayed in the French Quarter before Katrina. That in itself makes the story appealing.

  8. Heidi

    I read a book by this same author last year… can’t recall the title, but I know where you are coming from. There were parts I really liked, but the pacing got weighed down and it just didn’t come off like I hoped.

  9. Ramona

    Interesting. I think it is possible to give into the temptation of being overly authentic, so to speak 🙂 And paying too much attention to detail (which is what I tend to be most guilty of). Nevertheless too much of anything is not necessarily a good thing. I’m curious about this one, Kimba. Great review 🙂

  10. Lanie

    Wow, like the sounds of this one:D The fact it’s set back in 1902 is super cool as well because that’s just like when things started to really change in the world.

  11. Daniela

    Witch books are caching my attention a lot these days 🙂 I think I want to make July and August all about witches. I’ll add this one. Great review as usual 🙂

  12. Kay

    I think knowing about the language and blanace in advance will help me enjoy this book. Everything else sounds wonderful about it! I am adding it to my TBR pile. 🙂

  13. Stormi

    It kind of sounds interesting but not sure so it’s going on my maybe list for later. 🙂 Great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was my first by her. I am making a conscious effort to try a new to me author every month and it is really paying off.

  14. Kristin

    I’m actually curious about this one for about a gazillion reasons… 🙂 I myself would love the Cajun dialect. Fabulous review!!

  15. Katherine

    This sounds fantastic! I’m not sure about the bayou dialect though. When I was in college I had a lot of friends at LSU and when I visited them we always went to these bars way out in the bayou and I never could understand a word they were saying. Thanks for the warning about the slower pace at the beginning though. I’ll be prepared for that.

  16. Jenny

    I think I would probably struggle with the POV changes and the jumps in time as those things are always a bit problematic for me, but I do so love a second chance romance and anything set in New Orleans, so I’m still curious about this one:) Fantastic review as always!

  17. Ro

    Having visited New Orleans, I could picture this story, and love the idea of magic disbursed throughout. I do struggle with connecting with books that take a while to grab my attention within the first chapter, and end up not giving a few good books a chance. Great and captivating review! Hugs…

    • kimbacaffeinate

      We visited this year and I felt the same. I slipped in, the pace was just slow in the beginning. Although I will say the way she painted it was wonderful.

  18. Suzanne

    HI! I usually don’t post any comments when my books are reviewed… As a former blogger, I don’t like that strange stalker feeling I used to get when those I was blogging about showed up on my site!! That being said… (and I hope you don’t mind me popping in here…) I have read a lot of reviews of my books. I love reading them. I moon over the good ones and try to learn from the bad. (Actually… I ALWAYS learn from the bad!) But this review? This is the most spot on amazing reviews I’ve read. Thank you, Kim. Thank you for seeing the book as it really is. Actually, I thought there could have been more “decaf” points but I’m harder on myself than I ought to be. BRAVO! Well DONE! I’m actually going to read more reviews now. Because… amazing.

  19. Rosa

    i usually not a big fan of magical realism, but this story seems promising!

  20. Nick

    It looks like there’s lots going on in this book. I think I’d be one of those readers who would be bothered by the detailed writing. My attention tends to waver with such writing.
    Glad you still liked it despite the decaffeinated aspects, Kim!

  21. Melliane

    despite some little points I confess that I’m quite curious because first… witches and second louisiana, it’s two things I’m always curious to read about. thanks for the review!