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The Salt Roads    by Nalo Hopkinson order for
Salt Roads
by Nalo Hopkinson
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Award-winning author Nalo Hopkinson's The Salt Roads is a fantasy that pulses with female life. Whether we are in St. Domingue (later Haiti), Baudelaire's France or Jerusalem about 300 A.D., strong, willful women tell their stories of struggle, love, betrayal and defeat.

In each world, the dark ones are subservient to the light. The slaves of St. Domingue must fear for their lives at every moment. Meritet in Jerusalem is just as ill-used, and even in civilized Paris and Neuilly, Jeanne Duval's life is made more miserable because of her color. Yet, there is always the fascination of the light-skinned for the dark, and these women are very aware of their powers. All have an indomitable lust for love-making, and Hopkinson's descriptions here are graphic to the point of prurience. Treated both separately and juxtaposed against all is the spirit, Ezili, the goddess of love.

We are thrown into the three worlds willy-nilly, just as Ezili is thrown from one woman's body to another. Transitions are abrupt and have embedded in them their own transitions. There are multiple layers of meaning, some not very understandable, but then this is fantasy.

It is quite a ride, not for delicate minds, certainly not for logical ones. For this reviewer, the novel would have been a better success if Ezili had more form. The three stories, though mightily interesting in themselves, have only a tenuous relation to each other because the world of Ezili, which is also very interesting, is not substantial enough.

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