My Soul to Keep: A Novel
When Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost. Now, his immortal brethren have decided David must return and leave his family in Miami. Instead, David vows to invoke a forbidden ritual to keep Jessica and his daughter with him forever.
Harrowing, engrossing and skillfully rendered, My Soul to Keep traps Jessica between the desperation of immortals who want to rob her of her life and a husband who wants to rob her of her soul. With deft plotting and an unforgettable climax, this tour de force reminiscent of early Anne Rice will win Due a new legion of fans.
Tananarive Due is intrigued by how unfolding timelines and alternate destinies impinge on people’s lives. “How frightening it is,” she writes, “when fate is at liberty to take over what will has begun.” As in her absorbing first novel, The Between, My Soul to Keep is about what happens when the domestic joy of a middle-class African American family (in this story, he’s a jazz scholar, she’s a reporter, and they have a 5-year-old daughter) is shattered by supernatural forces and memories of events long past. The story is deeply involving because of the characters’ appeal, and suspenseful because the loving husband (who turns out to be a 500-year-old immortal) is so alien, he’s utterly unpredictable. The passages recalling the husband’s experiences as a slave in the American South in the 1800s are especially gripping. It’s a melodramatic approach to dark fantasy, but it works well.