Hot Best Seller

The Ballad of Perilous Graves

Availability: Ready to download

In a fantastical version of New Orleans where music is magic, a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this vibrant and imaginative debut. Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep th In a fantastical version of New Orleans where music is magic, a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this vibrant and imaginative debut. Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep the spirit of the city alive. To those from Far Away, Nola might seem strange. To failed magician, Perilous Graves, it’s simply home. Then the rhythm stutters. Nine songs of power have escaped from the magical piano that maintains the city’s beat and without them, Nola will fail. Unexpectedly, Perry and his sister, Brendy, are tasked with saving the city. But a storm is brewing and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Even if they capture the songs, Nola’s time might be coming to an end.


Compare

In a fantastical version of New Orleans where music is magic, a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this vibrant and imaginative debut. Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep th In a fantastical version of New Orleans where music is magic, a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this vibrant and imaginative debut. Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep the spirit of the city alive. To those from Far Away, Nola might seem strange. To failed magician, Perilous Graves, it’s simply home. Then the rhythm stutters. Nine songs of power have escaped from the magical piano that maintains the city’s beat and without them, Nola will fail. Unexpectedly, Perry and his sister, Brendy, are tasked with saving the city. But a storm is brewing and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Even if they capture the songs, Nola’s time might be coming to an end.

30 review for The Ballad of Perilous Graves

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burke

    In the spirit here, I ask that if you are currently deceased, it is imperative that you resume living at once and begin reading – (very loosely taken from part of the digital galley). New Orleans. There is no place like it, except in “The Ballad of Perilous Graves.” Alex Jennings fires up the torches to show the real Nola. Music always felt like the heartbeat here, we just never realized it is the heartbeat. Evil is out to kill nine essential songs holding this world together. Take away the songs In the spirit here, I ask that if you are currently deceased, it is imperative that you resume living at once and begin reading – (very loosely taken from part of the digital galley). New Orleans. There is no place like it, except in “The Ballad of Perilous Graves.” Alex Jennings fires up the torches to show the real Nola. Music always felt like the heartbeat here, we just never realized it is the heartbeat. Evil is out to kill nine essential songs holding this world together. Take away the songs, songs manifesting themselves as spirits, and the city collapses against a collection of all the storms ever visited on the area. A chosen few are tasked with using magic to fend off the attack. Three are children who will face off against the likes of legendary song villain Stagger Lee and a gruesome ghoul he reports to. The fourth defender is Casey, an ex-tagger who abandoned his art when he saw his creations coming to life on their own. Graffiti can float on the air now and people passing through the graffiti become disoriented, one person vomiting flower petals after going through a tag. These episodes have been coined “Color Rushes.” Musical spirits and ghosts are not unusual in Nola, but we bridge other oddities not found on your travel agent’s brochure. Zombies are commonplace walking the streets and when you look up you see the sky trolleys. Parades of P-bodies pass by, dazzled souls who spent a little too much time under the effect of the paint of the graffiti tags. Now things are getting grave and even the air pulses with the oncoming storm– a destruction promised. A good deal of the book is spent preparing our unlikely heroes for their battle against the dark forces. Casey is a trans male coming to grips with the death of his cousin and the magic they both created which now runs rampant in the city. Perry, just out of fifth grade, and his younger sister Brendy are thrust into their roles as warriors by a fate reinforced by family. Then there is Peaches… a mysterious and astonishing girl who seems to live alone and is really the leader the other kids look up to. She could really be the focus of another book all herself. Wait… am I following all this… I am not lost here am I? With all the POV changes and strange events you find yourself taking a leap of faith that the tide is flowing forward. It is a journey and demands some patience getting to where it is going– there will be people who will not finish it. I found the payoff well worth the effort, though. “The Ballad of Perilous Graves” is super-charged with imagination, filthy rich in characters I have not even mentioned, and captures a Nola feel so well you can hear the music playing and capture the images moving as you go. Thank you to Redhook Books and NetGalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review. Now to tape a coin to my record player needle and put my scratchy Dr. John “Gris-Gris” record on. #CocoRobichaux

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    You may think you know New Orleans with its culture and folkore, but Alex Jennings invites you to see it anew, with his alternate fantastical version, Nola, with its rhythms of music, song, magic and darkness, the zombies that walk the streets, dancing haints, dead cabs, floating graffiti, p-bodies and magicians. It is a discordant, chaotic and hallucinatory experience that had me confused and disorientated, as in all honesty, it took some time before the various threads began to make sense, but You may think you know New Orleans with its culture and folkore, but Alex Jennings invites you to see it anew, with his alternate fantastical version, Nola, with its rhythms of music, song, magic and darkness, the zombies that walk the streets, dancing haints, dead cabs, floating graffiti, p-bodies and magicians. It is a discordant, chaotic and hallucinatory experience that had me confused and disorientated, as in all honesty, it took some time before the various threads began to make sense, but even by the end, I was still left with some feelings of bewilderment. Pay little heed to this, for this is a smart, beautifully crafted, and lyrical read, with its imaginative, colourful and vibrant world building, persevere through the first part, and you are likely to be amply rewarded. The wondrous and offbeat city of Nola is in grave trouble, its life blood and beating heart depends on music, and horror of horrors, 9 songs of power have escaped, and without them Nola's very existence is under threat. With a wide cast of quirky characters, the future of Nola lies in the hands of the few. Perry, his sister, Brendy, Peaches and Casey embark on a wildly thrilling obstacle ridden adventure facing evil and villains, will they be able to succeed, particularly as there is a storm brewing? Jennings has composed a strange, exquisite and deranged musical song of a narrative, but some of its tone and rhythms may not appeal to everyone. However, I was enthralled and charmed, I loved the wordplay and dialogue, its illustration of the power of music, and its diverse and beguiling set of characters. I highly recommend this to readers looking for something different and willing to take risks in the hopes of finding an enchanting read that celebrates New Orleans. Oh, and I love the cover!! Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Miya (cozy spooky season begins)

    Yessss! This was so different than anything I have read. Super imaginative and vivid. Magical and dreamy. The representation is awesome. I really enjoyed it! I feel like I may need to read it again to get more out of it, but ya a fun one!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    Knowing how magical realism and I don't play well together, I probably shouldn't have requested this one from NetGalley, BUT . . . the premise sounded intriguing, and then there was that AMAZING cover. And, I tried to love the book, I really did, but the whole shebang was just too confusing for my rapidly aging brain. What was real and what wasn't? Who was a ghost, a zombie, or still alive? I gave up on trying to figure it out. On the plus side, I did like the magical, folklore elements (view spoi Knowing how magical realism and I don't play well together, I probably shouldn't have requested this one from NetGalley, BUT . . . the premise sounded intriguing, and then there was that AMAZING cover. And, I tried to love the book, I really did, but the whole shebang was just too confusing for my rapidly aging brain. What was real and what wasn't? Who was a ghost, a zombie, or still alive? I gave up on trying to figure it out. On the plus side, I did like the magical, folklore elements (view spoiler)[Hello, Stagger Lee! (hide spoiler)] , the New Orleans setting, and I LOVED the three kids. Every now and then I butt heads with a book that I honestly think would make a better graphic novel, or film, and this was one. Hopefully, I'll be watching this on Netflix in a few years, and it will all make sense to me then. But, DAMN! That's an AWESOME cover, eh? Many thanks to NetGalley and Redhook for letting me take this one for a spin.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    OK this might sound a bit weird but I probably only understood about half of what was going on in this wonderful debut but it could never have been anything except a five star read because I adored it. Set in a vibrant New Orleans alternative city Nola, where music is magic, the dead and the living inhabit the crazy, colourful streets and a young Perilous Graves is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. The diverse and beautiful character dynamic alongside the intense and gorgeous settin OK this might sound a bit weird but I probably only understood about half of what was going on in this wonderful debut but it could never have been anything except a five star read because I adored it. Set in a vibrant New Orleans alternative city Nola, where music is magic, the dead and the living inhabit the crazy, colourful streets and a young Perilous Graves is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. The diverse and beautiful character dynamic alongside the intense and gorgeous setting make this book a fantastic read. So for sure the mythology is complex and sometimes you feel a little lost in the flow of events and people, but the heart of it is a pounding, pulse racing delight of a read. I won't attempt to make it coherent, the pure joy of it is its incoherence and the ending had me desperate for more. Fabulous.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    “Claws scrabbled desperate at the back of his throat. Yakumo curved his back into a question mark and fought to swallow the creature. The rat was tenacious though, and scrabbled its way into his mouth. He tasted its hair and fright against his rotten tongue. Its terror, its hatred. But it was him, wasn’t it? Some of him? Yakumo spat the rat onto the dirty floor.” The blurb sounded promising and the book had a definite rhythm and atmosphere that kept me reading longer than I should have. Unfortuna “Claws scrabbled desperate at the back of his throat. Yakumo curved his back into a question mark and fought to swallow the creature. The rat was tenacious though, and scrabbled its way into his mouth. He tasted its hair and fright against his rotten tongue. Its terror, its hatred. But it was him, wasn’t it? Some of him? Yakumo spat the rat onto the dirty floor.” The blurb sounded promising and the book had a definite rhythm and atmosphere that kept me reading longer than I should have. Unfortunately, this book was too confusing (and intermittently gross) for me to want to continue. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  7. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    New Orleans-set and -themed fantasy with an almost entirely Black cast. The main protagonists are children but it's very much an adult book, about culture and loss and growing up. It's also very dense with invention to the point where, for me, it was a bit overstuffed. It was hard to know what was important in the barrage of new ideas and strange creatures and multiple worlds and many characters, and honestly I found it pretty hard to follow the plot in detail. What were the zombies and the big i New Orleans-set and -themed fantasy with an almost entirely Black cast. The main protagonists are children but it's very much an adult book, about culture and loss and growing up. It's also very dense with invention to the point where, for me, it was a bit overstuffed. It was hard to know what was important in the barrage of new ideas and strange creatures and multiple worlds and many characters, and honestly I found it pretty hard to follow the plot in detail. What were the zombies and the big insects there for? Why is one of the kids explicitly compared to Milo from the Phantom Tollbooth, but the Pippi Longstocking analogue of the other--red haired super strong girl with lost pirate-captain father--is never acknowledged? I got lost between the alternate versions of the Casey character, and a chunk of plot around the compass seemed to be missing unless I missed it. Basically a slightly bewildering, cornucopia of imagination and storytelling. Which I bet is the point. I absolutely *bet* it would read differently if I knew New Orleans (just like all those millions of London set fantasies) and there's resonances and vibes in the exuberant worlds here that I'm just not picking up. Which, fair enough because not everything is for me. I found it too kaleidoscopic to make a completely satisfying story, but it's wildly inventive and heartfelt and well written, so it will be fascinating to see where the author goes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    The New Orleans that Perilous, aka Perry, Graves, lives in, on the Mississippi and Lake Pontchatraine, is not the same New Orleans that you or I might visit. It has skyways instead of streetcars. Zombies drive barely recognizable “cabs”. Music is everywhere but so are visible songs floating by. There’s definitely magic at work. The center of the story is a trio of children, Perry, a fifth grader, his younger sister Brendey, and their teenage friend Peaches, with a somewhat mysterious history—and The New Orleans that Perilous, aka Perry, Graves, lives in, on the Mississippi and Lake Pontchatraine, is not the same New Orleans that you or I might visit. It has skyways instead of streetcars. Zombies drive barely recognizable “cabs”. Music is everywhere but so are visible songs floating by. There’s definitely magic at work. The center of the story is a trio of children, Perry, a fifth grader, his younger sister Brendey, and their teenage friend Peaches, with a somewhat mysterious history—and present. There are others who will become important and move in and out of the story, but these three are the bedrock of this fantastic world Jennings has built. And fantastic in many ways: the beings in it; the way the world is structured; the use of music as music, character and device; and the plot itself to save New Orleans from its other ominous self, threatening to overwhelm it in storm water and out of control music, until it’s gone. This is an exciting novel to read with its action, novelty and world building, but most of all for the story of Perry, who just wants to be a normal kid. Oh, and this is for adults! Recommended! Alex Jennings notes in his Acknowledgements his “father, Hartford Jennings, who, without meaning to, tasked me to write the Blackest fantasy I could concoct.” I’m so glad he did! The flavor of the story was wonderful as were the musical interludes for this white northern woman who was a teenager in the sixties when a lot of the music was playing here too. A copy of this book was provided by Redhook Books through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burke

    In the spirit here, I ask that if you are currently deceased, it is imperative that you resume living at once and begin reading – (very loosely taken from part of the digital galley). New Orleans. There is no place like it, except in “The Ballad of Perilous Graves.” Alex Jennings fires up the torches to show the real Nola. Music always felt like the heartbeat here, we just never realized it is the heartbeat. Evil is out to kill nine essential songs holding this world together. Take away the songs In the spirit here, I ask that if you are currently deceased, it is imperative that you resume living at once and begin reading – (very loosely taken from part of the digital galley). New Orleans. There is no place like it, except in “The Ballad of Perilous Graves.” Alex Jennings fires up the torches to show the real Nola. Music always felt like the heartbeat here, we just never realized it is the heartbeat. Evil is out to kill nine essential songs holding this world together. Take away the songs, songs manifesting themselves as spirits, and the city collapses against a collection of all the storms ever visited on the area. A chosen few are tasked with using magic to fend off the attack. Three are children who will face off against the likes of legendary song villain Stagger Lee and a gruesome ghoul he reports to. The fourth defender is Casey, an ex-tagger who abandoned his art when he saw his creations coming to life on their own. Graffiti can float on the air now and people passing through the graffiti become disoriented, one person vomiting flower petals after going through a tag. These episodes have been coined “Color Rushes.” Musical spirits and ghosts are not unusual in Nola, but we bridge other oddities not found on your travel agent’s brochure. Zombies are commonplace walking the streets and when you look up you see the sky trolleys. Parades of P-bodies pass by, dazzled souls who spent a little too much time under the effect of the paint of the graffiti tags. Now things are getting grave and even the air pulses with the oncoming storm– a destruction promised. A good deal of the book is spent preparing our unlikely heroes for their battle against the dark forces. Casey is a trans male coming to grips with the death of his cousin and the magic they both created which now runs rampant in the city. Perry, just out of fifth grade, and his younger sister Brendy are thrust into their roles as warriors by a fate reinforced by family. Then there is Peaches… a mysterious and astonishing girl who seems to live alone and is really the leader the other kids look up to. She could really be the focus of another book all herself. Wait… am I following all this… I am not lost here am I? With all the POV changes and strange events you find yourself taking a leap of faith that the tide is flowing forward. It is a journey and demands some patience getting to where it is going– there will be people who will not finish it. I found the payoff well worth the effort, though. “The Ballad of Perilous Graves” is super-charged with imagination, filthy rich in characters I have not even mentioned, and captures a Nola feel so well you can hear the music playing and capture the images moving as you go. Thank you to Redhook Books and NetGalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review. Now I am going to tape a coin to my record player needle and put my scratchy Dr. John “Gris-Gris” record on. #CocoRobichaux

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nils | nilsreviewsit

    I DNF’d this at 230 pages. I really wanted to love The Ballad of Perilous Graves but unfortunately I found it too confusing. It’s set in New Orleans and an alternative New Orleans called Nola, which is full of magic. The setting was definitely my favourite part, there were some lovely descriptions and I loved that Nola was a place of powerful songs, of creepy haints, of p-bodies who could vomit fire, of graffiti which came to life, it was a place both quirky and eerie. Jennings includes many dive I DNF’d this at 230 pages. I really wanted to love The Ballad of Perilous Graves but unfortunately I found it too confusing. It’s set in New Orleans and an alternative New Orleans called Nola, which is full of magic. The setting was definitely my favourite part, there were some lovely descriptions and I loved that Nola was a place of powerful songs, of creepy haints, of p-bodies who could vomit fire, of graffiti which came to life, it was a place both quirky and eerie. Jennings includes many diverse characters including trans representation, which was fantastic to see. Yet there were far too many characters, we jump from each POV too often allowing very little depth or investment in their arcs. In all honesty it felt jarring. The narrative was too disjointed, too chaotic and I really couldn’t tell you what the plot was about other than there are two children with magical weapons on the search for some missing songs. I realise that the plot may fall into place later on, but every time I put the book down my enthusiasm to pick it back up waned. However, don’t let my opinion discourage you. At my heart I’m a character driven reader and if I don’t feel any depth from the characters then I really do struggle. You may feel differently, in fact I hope you do. I’ll end this review with my favourite quote: “Perry frowned and shut his eyes, listening more closely. He could hear it. At first the tone of the music reminded him of water, and it was still liquid, but now he imagined a bit of darkness and blood mixed in. He saw flowers unfurling to catch rain in a storm. Some of them were destroyed, pulverized by the water or swept away in the high wind. "That's the thing about music," Daddy Deke said. "It can destroy as much as it creates. It's wild and powerful, dig?"”

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tessa

    4/5 Stars on this one, friends. Ooooee! The Ballad of Perilous Graves is a riveting, wild, magical urban fantasy. Chock full of New Orleans charm and mayhem alike, I was happy to get lost (and I was certainly lost some of the time) in the beautiful town of Nola and follow Perry as he risks everything to return the lost songs of power. Okay, the actual conception of this? Bananas. We switch POVs so often, that it's really hard to wrap your head around what's going on at first. Add in a dialect that 4/5 Stars on this one, friends. Ooooee! The Ballad of Perilous Graves is a riveting, wild, magical urban fantasy. Chock full of New Orleans charm and mayhem alike, I was happy to get lost (and I was certainly lost some of the time) in the beautiful town of Nola and follow Perry as he risks everything to return the lost songs of power. Okay, the actual conception of this? Bananas. We switch POVs so often, that it's really hard to wrap your head around what's going on at first. Add in a dialect that you don't often see on the page(Aaamazing), and the fact that you often end up in the heads of children as they try to explain to you their strange and magical world and, well, there might be some turning the pages back and forth. I know this is going to put some people off, and it definitely did for me at first, but I was really glad I pressed on. I won't say I didn't struggle for the first half of the book. I put the book down a few times, unsure if I was going to be able to find my way back in, but I managed every time. And it was worth it. It was like the silly thrill the Addams Family was met with the native nature of New Orleans—and it really made this story shine. Floating graffiti? Giant rats? Ghosts? Spells and mages and music that evokes power? Listen, the lore of this place is something I need its own book on. I was absolutely enthralled by the way power worked here. It is usually strange, as an adulty adult, to read through the eyes of a child, but honestly, I think that added to a lot of the magic here. The wonder was still so fresh, even from the gaze of someone who had lived in Nola their whole lives. The way that music was described as its own force of nature; something that could both create and destroy, was so fascinating and I just cannot rant about it more. If you read this book for anything, read it for Nola itself. The plot was shaky at first, but once you find your footing, it's a wonderful and wild ride. *My thanks to Netgalley and Hachette Book Group for gifting me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    Exuberantly, fantastically inventive, Alex Jennings’ novel was so full of treats and wonders and that I was left feeling a little overwhelmed and definitely impressed with the world and characters in "The Ballad of Perilous Graves". I knew death and music were going to be central, based on its clever title, in this tale of New Orleans and Nola, a parallel, very different version of this city. Nola is where most of the action takes place and it is considerably different from our understanding of N Exuberantly, fantastically inventive, Alex Jennings’ novel was so full of treats and wonders and that I was left feeling a little overwhelmed and definitely impressed with the world and characters in "The Ballad of Perilous Graves". I knew death and music were going to be central, based on its clever title, in this tale of New Orleans and Nola, a parallel, very different version of this city. Nola is where most of the action takes place and it is considerably different from our understanding of New Orleans. For a taste of the magical differences populating Nola, Jennings has created, in no particular order: -graffiti that moves about, and can influence and radically change the appearance and behaviour of people who come into contact with it. These people become known as P-bodies -a super strong, super fast and super amazing girl who is one of the main actors in the story -zombies who don't go about chomping brains -wandering haints/ghost -floating streetcars -an underwater casino staffed by talking animals -powerful, ambulatory songs And the list goes on. The story involves a few magical and powered people coming together to save Nola from a threat, but that description feels like a pale summary of the eye-popping imagery and sheer breath of unusual and amazing people and things Jennings has created and that are in conflict. As you can probably tell, I liked this book a lot, but it's also not for the fainthearted, as it's a big, monster of a book. The story action moves along well, with only a little confusion, on my part initially, with the transitions back and forth in time, or between New Orleans and Nola, and from the perspectives of young Perilous "Perry" Graves and transgender Casey. The story pops with energy and rhythm, from Jennings’ in-story song snippets to the vibrant characters and graffiti decorated city. Though this book won’t be for everyone, I liked this book a lot, and wondered if Jennings had more stories in mind for Perry, Brendy, Peaches and Casey, as I’m interested in what happens next for them. Thank you to Netgalley and to Redhook Books for this ARC in exchange for my review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    If you think New Orleans is rich in magic and enchantment, wait until you discover the secret Nola: filled with music, sky trolleys, zombies, haints, and floating graffiti. Evil is out to kill nine songs in the city - and these songs are manifesting themselves as spirits. If the songs are killed, Nola will collapse under the power of all the storms that have battered the city throughout history. Three children - Perry, his sister Brendy, and their bewitching friend Peaches - are asked to collect t If you think New Orleans is rich in magic and enchantment, wait until you discover the secret Nola: filled with music, sky trolleys, zombies, haints, and floating graffiti. Evil is out to kill nine songs in the city - and these songs are manifesting themselves as spirits. If the songs are killed, Nola will collapse under the power of all the storms that have battered the city throughout history. Three children - Perry, his sister Brendy, and their bewitching friend Peaches - are asked to collect these songs, but this task leads them on a perilous journey through Nola, including rescuing their grandpa who has disappeared. At the same time, Casey, an artist searching for his missing cousin, has discovered the secret Nola and the magic that lies in their artistry. This book captivated me from page one! The dialogue, the imagination, the adventure, the characters: it’s all so rich and vivid that I couldn’t put this book down! For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hannah - The BookSirens Babe

    Extremely different from anything else that I've read. I really enjoyed this lyrical story. It was definitely confusing, with all the points of view changes mysterious spirits, but I loved whatever I did understand. The colourful and magical setting of New Orleans was perfect, and all the characters were interesting in their own way. It’ll take me a re-read to understand the entire book, but I liked it nonetheless. Extremely different from anything else that I've read. I really enjoyed this lyrical story. It was definitely confusing, with all the points of view changes mysterious spirits, but I loved whatever I did understand. The colourful and magical setting of New Orleans was perfect, and all the characters were interesting in their own way. It’ll take me a re-read to understand the entire book, but I liked it nonetheless.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Siavahda

    Good writing and great premise, but so, so overcomplicated. I hated and resented this book by the end; I just wanted it to be over. Full review to come Actual review: HIGHLIGHTS ~music is magic ~there’s more than one New Orleans ~family’s always got your back ~friends stand by your side against the Storm ~beware the sack I started this book excited. By the middle I was confused. By the end, I hated and resented it. I probably should have DNF-ed it instead of pushing on through, but I was so sure it was go Good writing and great premise, but so, so overcomplicated. I hated and resented this book by the end; I just wanted it to be over. Full review to come Actual review: HIGHLIGHTS ~music is magic ~there’s more than one New Orleans ~family’s always got your back ~friends stand by your side against the Storm ~beware the sack I started this book excited. By the middle I was confused. By the end, I hated and resented it. I probably should have DNF-ed it instead of pushing on through, but I was so sure it was going to smooth out and become epic. But while it tapped into some big, mythic-level themes, it was much too complicated, confusing, and over-full to be epic-like-awesome. Outside, sunlight fell like rain. It was so thick, so powerful that Perry expected it to ring as it bounced onto Esplande Avenue. What you need to know going into Ballad is that there are two New Orleanses: the New Orleans of our world, and Nola, which is New Orleans but magic, attached to our world as a kind of pocket dimension. The biggest, most frustrating thing about Ballad is that this is not explained or clear for the first half of the book. We jump seemingly at random between a city that has flying trams, zombies, and Mardi Gras beads growing from trees, to the mundane New Orleans (if NO can ever be described as mundane) where we follow a Black trans man named Casey living a pretty normal life with no apparent relevance to the plot going on in the magical city. I had no idea why Casey mattered, and to be honest, I still think his character and plotline could and should have been entirely cut from the book – it’s boring, it doesn’t add to the story, and it’s confusing in context. In Nola, the magical city, three Black kids – Perry, Brendy, and Peaches – are tasked with tracking down and recovering the Nine Songs that, to keep it short, power Nola. The songs have escaped – or possibly been set free by some dangerous enemy – and are now manifesting in human shape. They have to be gathered together again as quickly as possible for everyone’s safety – including their own. For Perry and Brendy, this means discovering and tapping into the gifts of their bloodline; Peaches, on the other hand, has had superpowers for as long as anyone can remember and is absolutely ready to mess some bad guys up. Read the rest at Every Book a Doorway!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

    3.5 This is one of the most fun and unique fantasy books I have read this year. There are a lot of components within the story that can make it difficult to follow along and understand the plot, but the whimsical and thoughtful depiction of New Orleans/Nola and its citizens is brilliant.

  17. 4 out of 5

    The Girl with the Sagittarius Tattoo

    New Orleans, Louisiana is a very, very special place for me. My husband brought me there for our first date (to convince me to go, he also invited my friend and her husband). I have never been there during Mardi Gras - believe me, you aren't missing anything if you haven't, either. The party goes on year-round. We go for the food, the music, the art and the culture, and we avoid Bourbon Street like the plague (yes, it actually smells like death). In The Ballad of Perilous Graves, three children, New Orleans, Louisiana is a very, very special place for me. My husband brought me there for our first date (to convince me to go, he also invited my friend and her husband). I have never been there during Mardi Gras - believe me, you aren't missing anything if you haven't, either. The party goes on year-round. We go for the food, the music, the art and the culture, and we avoid Bourbon Street like the plague (yes, it actually smells like death). In The Ballad of Perilous Graves, three children, Peaches, Brendy and Perilous (Perry for short), are attuned to the city in amazing ways. Peaches is especially sensitive to its magic, drawing the two siblings into supernatural adventures that are more and more dangerous. Some of these involve mind-altering 3D graffiti, haints, and dead cabs driven by sapient nutria - giant orange buckteeth and all. And that doesn't begin to scratch the surface of how weird this book is. The truth is, I loved this book for all its real-world locations, jazz and blues music shout-outs, and honest to God love for the city woven into the fabric of the story - warts and all. We all have a hometown or special city we hold in our hearts, don't we? Readers will absolutely recognize that and identify with the writer's sense of place, even if their own isn't NOLA. Alex Jennings does an amazing job capturing that feeling in every single line. BUT... does there have to be so many lines? Gawd, this book felt long. As much as I enjoyed it, it could have used a stringent beta reading with no feelings spared. Too many characters and plotlines made the story feel confusing at times, and choppy with so many different things happening. To be brutally honest, I had to let go of consciously trying to follow along and embrace a more superficial read. I freely admit I'm a somewhat lazy reader when it comes to busy plots. Others who perhaps read more for content will delve into this and celebrate finding a gem. It's my sincere hope this review doesn't turn people off from reading Perilous, but instead intrigues and challenges them. It deserves plenty of readers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Becca Maree

    Alex Jennings' debut novel is a starburst of color. Set in an alternate New Orleans known as NOLA, this urban fantasy is full of delightfully disorienting magical psychedelia — zombies, haints, and living songs, oh my! Take this book out with you to a local jazz bar. The Ballad of Perilous Graves is a unique love story to the culture of New Orleans and the traditions that carry on despite the wreckage of the Storm. Jennings transports us to the streets of NOLA through atmosphere, unorthodox word Alex Jennings' debut novel is a starburst of color. Set in an alternate New Orleans known as NOLA, this urban fantasy is full of delightfully disorienting magical psychedelia — zombies, haints, and living songs, oh my! Take this book out with you to a local jazz bar. The Ballad of Perilous Graves is a unique love story to the culture of New Orleans and the traditions that carry on despite the wreckage of the Storm. Jennings transports us to the streets of NOLA through atmosphere, unorthodox wordplay, authentic vernacular, and spirited dialogue. Jennings is by far a name to look out for in the magical realism and afrofuturism world. Special thanks to Netgalley and Hachette Book Group for a free, physical ARC of this novel. Expected publication date: June 21, 2022

  19. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    I don’t want to put a rating to this book because I feel like it will be for a select bunch and that bunch will absolutely love it! But in all honesty this book just wasn’t for me. It is basically a trio of young urban superhero’s in a fantastical New Orleans world. The writing was good and I enjoyed the world building. However, the characters were juvenile which made it hard to invest/ connect with. Also, this is a beefy book at almost 500 pages. I gave it a solid 200 pages. I hope this book fi I don’t want to put a rating to this book because I feel like it will be for a select bunch and that bunch will absolutely love it! But in all honesty this book just wasn’t for me. It is basically a trio of young urban superhero’s in a fantastical New Orleans world. The writing was good and I enjoyed the world building. However, the characters were juvenile which made it hard to invest/ connect with. Also, this is a beefy book at almost 500 pages. I gave it a solid 200 pages. I hope this book find its audience and those willing to invest in it. Thank you @grandcentralpub for this complimentary copy

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Here I is, baby! Writing this review and unable to find the right words to describe exactly how good it made me feel with every single page. This is the Blackest fantasy you'll ever read and it's bursting with all kinds of magic. I loved everything, and I mean EVERYTHING about this roller-coaster of an urban fantasy. I loved NOLA (a.k.a. New Orleans) with its unique culture and the most beautiful magic imaginable. I loved the characters, who are all children (even the grown-ups) and all strong an Here I is, baby! Writing this review and unable to find the right words to describe exactly how good it made me feel with every single page. This is the Blackest fantasy you'll ever read and it's bursting with all kinds of magic. I loved everything, and I mean EVERYTHING about this roller-coaster of an urban fantasy. I loved NOLA (a.k.a. New Orleans) with its unique culture and the most beautiful magic imaginable. I loved the characters, who are all children (even the grown-ups) and all strong and full of magic, but still utterly human and relatable. I loved the powerful vibrancy of Alex's storytelling and although I don't know how he managed to make every word in this book just right, I can assure you that it was an absolute joy to read. The dialogue just came to life right there on the page, and I can't stop thinking this book needs a graphic novel adaptation because it would be a masterpiece. I would love to tell you something about the story without spoiling it or sounding insane, but I don't think it's possible. All I can say is that the city of NOLA is in danger. The Storm is coming, and saving the city and those who call it home is up to 12-year-old Perry and his friends. I refuse to say anything else about the plot as Alex intentionally created a narrative that will confuse you and then make you think you're finally starting to put the pieces together only to confuse you even more to the point that you can almost here Jennings chuckle at his own mischievousness. This book is trippy. It's brilliant and beautiful. It's a children's book for adults. It's so wonderfully unique and special that there's no way I can do it justice in this review. I recommend this book to everyone who loves original fantasy and isn't scared of being confused and trusting the author to take them on a journey they will enjoy. It does require some trust, but then again most good things do. And if there's someone you can trust on such a journey, it must be Alex who names his character's pet after his own dog. Thank you to @NetGalley and @LittleBrownUK for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Keri

    I have no idea what I just read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amber (seekingdystopia)

    2.5/5 stars I really enjoyed the first half or so of this book. We were introduced to a magical, alternate New Orleans called Nola that has magic. Ghosts, zombies, and loving graffiti fill the streets. Some of are more friendly than others. The kids Perry, Peaches, and Brendy were absolutely delightful. The beginning of their adventure was whimsical and reminded me of a Seanan McGuire world. I wanted to spend my time with this group as they went to save songs that had been stolen and put the city 2.5/5 stars I really enjoyed the first half or so of this book. We were introduced to a magical, alternate New Orleans called Nola that has magic. Ghosts, zombies, and loving graffiti fill the streets. Some of are more friendly than others. The kids Perry, Peaches, and Brendy were absolutely delightful. The beginning of their adventure was whimsical and reminded me of a Seanan McGuire world. I wanted to spend my time with this group as they went to save songs that had been stolen and put the city at risk. I wish that this had been more of a linear adventure following the kids, because once we started introducing more plot lines, I really started getting lost and struggled to see how some of the sub plots actually related to the main one. By midway through the book things started to get hard to follow. There were several POVs that I don’t feel like added much to the story. I also found the importance of Casey’s plot to be tenuous at best. At the end of the book, I did not feel satisfied with the outcome. It feels like a lot of things happened to have very little resolution or explanation. Speaking of little explanation, this was an incredibly soft magic system. I don’t have anything against soft magic systems, but this felt like a little sprinkle of every magic you could imagine and it made some magic feel incredibly over powered and ignored what I thought were the more interesting magical aspects. Overall, THE BALLAD OF PERILOUS GRAVES was a book with a brilliant concept that felt like it got too far in over its head and got a bit lost in the sauce. Thank you to the publisher for the gifted ARC!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Received an arc!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Evyn

    I received an advance copy of this book through Orbit’s bookseller mailing list and y’all….I’m so glad I did. I was pleasantly confused for the entire first half. The book switches characters a lot, and I was not really sure how Casey fits in with Perry and Brendy and Peaches, but by the third part, I was glued to the pages. Everything fit together so nicely. It was still chaotic, of course, but I personally loved that. If you like books where a billion different things are all happening, and no I received an advance copy of this book through Orbit’s bookseller mailing list and y’all….I’m so glad I did. I was pleasantly confused for the entire first half. The book switches characters a lot, and I was not really sure how Casey fits in with Perry and Brendy and Peaches, but by the third part, I was glued to the pages. Everything fit together so nicely. It was still chaotic, of course, but I personally loved that. If you like books where a billion different things are all happening, and not necessarily in order or maybe at the same time, this is 100 percent the book to go to. I see a few re-reads in my future.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I really wanted to like this book but in the end it was too disjointed and strange for me. It has an interesting concept, I loved all the New Orleans references, and the music references were fascinating. But I was left confused about what was happening for most of the book. And I felt like the writing had holes in it. Ultimately this was not an enjoyable read for me. I received this book as a free giveaway in exchange for my honest review. 2 stars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Becky'sBookBlog

    Perilous Graves and his sister Brendy live in Nola, a city full of wonders, where magic exists, haints roam the city and where songs are the life and breath of the city. So when 9 of them are taken and start getting destroyed, Perilous, Brendy, their friend Peaches and Casey are put on the task of finding them and bringing them back to Doctor Professor, the man whose music keeps Nola alive. But things aren’t all as they seem, there is a storm brewing, the storm of all storms and some of the song Perilous Graves and his sister Brendy live in Nola, a city full of wonders, where magic exists, haints roam the city and where songs are the life and breath of the city. So when 9 of them are taken and start getting destroyed, Perilous, Brendy, their friend Peaches and Casey are put on the task of finding them and bringing them back to Doctor Professor, the man whose music keeps Nola alive. But things aren’t all as they seem, there is a storm brewing, the storm of all storms and some of the songs released aren’t too willing to go back to where they were before. The gang will have to delve into every power and skill they have if they are to gather the 9 songs and save Nola from being destroyed for good. The Ballad of Perilous Graves was one of the quirkier stories I’ve read this year and, although it took me a little while to get into the swing of things, once I did I easily got invested in the story and found myself desperate for Perry (Perilous), Brendy, Peaches & Casey, the only adult POV, to survive, and a large part of that was how effortlessly they came to life as characters. Perry was through with the life of magic after an event left him terrified of what could happen, but through circumstance and familial heritage, finds himself and Brendy thrust into the world with too little knowledge and a whole heap of power. On the cusp of adulthood, Perry is loosing that childish feeling of imperviousness, he knows danger and fear, whereas Brendy is still young enough to think she is untouchable, still delighted by magic without the fear of wondering what it could do to her. Peaches is a strange character, a young girl living by herself who runs the streets of Nola like she owns it, and she might well do. With unnatural strength and a strong tie to the magical world, she is someone both Perry and Brendy look too with a kind of awe. Casey’s POV is one that definitely threw me a little, and we find the reason for that later on in the book. He’s a trans male, coming to grips with a major death in his life, but someone who also has more magical ability than he thought and unwittingly finds himself in the middle of a battle for the city he loves. The above are just the main characters but Jennnings fills this book to the brim with exceptionally built characters that help bring his story to life, from Perry and Brendy’s family, to the living embodiments of the 9 songs that get stolen as well as all the magical beings we meet a long the way. Jennings has an ability to make even the smallest character leap off the page and every single one has a part to play in the telling of his story. This book takes the New Orleans we all know and love and just makes it more real. Jenning’s makes it a place fuelled by music and art and magic, where they don’t just run in the hearts of the people who live there, but are actually the heartbeat of the city itself. We also get musical spirits roaming the streets, zombies and P-bodies, people who have spent too much time walking through the magical and moving street tags that freely roam the city. Jennings makes it a place of wonder, but also dangerous and definitely makes the stakes of the story higher when you realise it’s three kids and one adult who have to save them all. One of the big themes running through this book was the fact that adults are just big kinds playing pretend, that they don’t have the answers most of the time and I LOVED this because it is so unbelievably true. We see this through the flapping of Perry and Brendy’s parents when they realise what their children have been tasked with, and knowing they can do nothing to help, but also through Perry who, on the cusp of adulthood himself, is frantically looking for answers where there are none. He gets frustrated when the people he asks for help don’t have answers for him, and even more so when he can’t work things out himself. This book was a joy to read, but also slightly weird and for the most part of the book had me wondering what was actually going on. I’m saying this because, readers who like clear cut plots might not enjoy this book as much as those of us who are willing to feel lost. It’s a story that asks for patience whilst reading, as well as a little bit of faith that you will get to where you need to be and trust me, the pay of is 100% worth it. It’s a story to fuel the imagination, filled with unforgettable characters and brings to life a Nola that I would visit in a heartbeat. I would love to say ‘perfect for fans of’ but I think I can safely say I haven’t read anything like this before, but it’s safe to say I will be keeping my eye out for whatever Jennings writes next. A sold 4 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Wagner

    The beauty of jazz music is its absolute artistic freedom. Jazz musicians obey only their own rules, going exactly where their muse takes them in the moment. Sometimes such freedom leads to self-indulgence, to music that can be far too obscure and demanding for many audiences to understand and accept. But mostly, it creates a space in which artistic self-expression can thrive in ways more conventional music just doesn’t offer. Jazz permeates the very soul of Alex Jennings’ debut urban fantasy The The beauty of jazz music is its absolute artistic freedom. Jazz musicians obey only their own rules, going exactly where their muse takes them in the moment. Sometimes such freedom leads to self-indulgence, to music that can be far too obscure and demanding for many audiences to understand and accept. But mostly, it creates a space in which artistic self-expression can thrive in ways more conventional music just doesn’t offer. Jazz permeates the very soul of Alex Jennings’ debut urban fantasy The Ballad of Perilous Graves. Even the title reflects the importance of music to the very heart of New Orleans. Jennings is a New Orleans writer and geek culture polymath who has written his first book as a love letter to his city, an urban landscape like no other in America. It’s a city that manages to stay vibrant and alive despite bearing the scars of some of the worst natural disasters in this country’s history, not to mention the subsequent governmental neglect. Between 1851-2004, eighteen hurricanes of Category 3 or higher have hit the Louisiana coast. Since Katrina, when the levees broke, at least ten more, big and small, have struck the Big Easy itself. This would be brutal even if the city hadn’t been built six and a half feet below sea level. But New Orleans defiantly refuses to go down easy. It’s almost as if it has some brave guardians defending it. Perilous Antoine Graves is a ten-year-old boy living with his parents and kid sister Brendy in Nola, an alternate New Orleans in which the streetcars are airborne, ghost taxis are driven by talking nutrias, zombies casually roam the streets, and graffiti tags take on a life of their own and float through the air down city streets. When the specter of the Doctor Professor appears one humid afternoon, playing his ghostly piano outside near Perry’s Jackson Street house, everyone knows it signals something unusual, possibly even trouble. (Continued...)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This is such a delightfully chaotic and unexpected charmer of a fantasy book - a complete playground of imagination, weird and fresh and so rich in magic and music and LIFE (plus also a lot of ghosts and haints and other undead, but I digress), shaped into a story I loved getting swept up in. I’m always a sucker for a magic system that relies on music, and for cities that are characters in themselves, and oh, this is absolutely both of those things. If you love cheering for kickass kid heroes wi This is such a delightfully chaotic and unexpected charmer of a fantasy book - a complete playground of imagination, weird and fresh and so rich in magic and music and LIFE (plus also a lot of ghosts and haints and other undead, but I digress), shaped into a story I loved getting swept up in. I’m always a sucker for a magic system that relies on music, and for cities that are characters in themselves, and oh, this is absolutely both of those things. If you love cheering for kickass kid heroes with the odds always stacked high against them, especially as they take on ghosts and spirits and thieves and everything else under the sun in order to reclaim stolen songs that power a city - New Orleans like you’ve never seen it before - that you’ll not soon forget, this is for you. The physical hardcover is such a beautiful book and I’m so happy to own a copy, but in the end I couldn’t resist the audiobook because WHAT a production! An excellent narrator, who not only captures the essence of the characters, but also absolutely brings to life the glorious atmosphere of the book and city itself; brilliant sound and voice effects; and an original score?? Ahhh I loved it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katy Wheatley

    This is urban fantasy par excellence. Complex, challenging, funny, sharp and provocative. Set in New Orleans and an alternative version of the same city, this switches and changes up all the time. It has ghosts, time travellers, zombies and graffiti that comes to life. It has trans heroes and people made of bees and magical pianos. It's a riotous adventure with bags of heart. This is urban fantasy par excellence. Complex, challenging, funny, sharp and provocative. Set in New Orleans and an alternative version of the same city, this switches and changes up all the time. It has ghosts, time travellers, zombies and graffiti that comes to life. It has trans heroes and people made of bees and magical pianos. It's a riotous adventure with bags of heart.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    I enjoyed this book SO MUCH. At first for the wonderful rhythms of real people, real lives, real truths. And then for the whimsy and wonder that somehow still stayed so very real and grounded (even when there's graffiti flying through the air and superheroes and ghosts). And then for the disparate parts with their overlapping details that enticed me to try putting them together. And finally for how it all did come together, wildly and gloriously and so extremely satisfyingly. An absolutely wonder I enjoyed this book SO MUCH. At first for the wonderful rhythms of real people, real lives, real truths. And then for the whimsy and wonder that somehow still stayed so very real and grounded (even when there's graffiti flying through the air and superheroes and ghosts). And then for the disparate parts with their overlapping details that enticed me to try putting them together. And finally for how it all did come together, wildly and gloriously and so extremely satisfyingly. An absolutely wonderful book that is not at all the sort of thing I'd necessarily pick up as "for me", but that I'm so glad I got the chance to enjoy. Definitely worth considering for those who enjoyed Jemisin's The City We Became, but there's something almost... Diana Wynne Jones-ish, but extremely New Orleans, about this.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.