Blood Island by James Farber

(No Series)

Where once rose the cool silence of a primitive temple and the whispering of ancestral graves sprawls a lush Caribbean resort - an exotic pleasure playground where men and women come to feed their hungers, or hide their secrets, or live out their wildest fantasies.

But something is very wrong on the planet of Carrefour.

Inexplicable drownings…bizarre sexual murders…the bloody staring head of a black rooster in a young woman’s bed…the face in a photograph aging to a grinning skull in its frame…a shy young bride transformed into a snarling temptress…

Something evil has risen from the very ground on which Carrefour stands.

And in the blood red shadows of the jungle, to the frenzied beat of the voodoo drums and the death rattle of the maracas, a mysterious figure with a lithe sensual body and glittering black eyes begins to dance. And as his dark sexual ritual unfolds, the guests gather to watch and wait and tremble…

Blood Island is a novel written back in 1981, but while older it deserves its chance in the 20th century spotlight. I always enjoy novels focusing on voodoo or other dark religions,which is the core of this novel. Some genuinely creepy events unfold, there are some great internal struggles going on with all characters, the pace runs along well and a lot happens within 323 pages.

Basically a resort has opened on an island that used to be inhabited by tribes who believed in (and some practiced) black magic of sorts. A group of unlucky patrons go on to the island, but some people don't want it to remain open, and through the use of magic and rituals, try to chase off the inhabitants. This is done through possession, false scares, and killings. The jungle has a life all its own and the scenery is used to great advantage. I enjoyed learning about the original islanders and seeing the changes being done. There were some great messages in the plot, one being that we shouldn’t treat others badly when we invade their territory, and another being not to destroy and demolish nature for financial gain and greed.

Suspense is done well, and in certain scenes it pours. One is the rooster that is caged one minute, and gone the next. There are bodies popping up, possessions, weird dances, and the sense that one is never really alone. Nor safe. I will admit looking over my shoulder a few times and feeling a little creeped out when walking to the kitchen during the night, when all was quiet, while reading this.

There are some pretty violent killings, a nice description of gore, detail of pure fright, intense emotion, and some pretty graphic sexual conduct.

The atmosphere has this quiet horror about it, while the island and jungle setting is ideal for this type of telling. It is stark and devoid of humor [most of the time reading my shoulders just would not relax] and there’s a sense of inescapable reality and frustration emerging from the people involved. As if they want to escape, to live, but they know the chance is so slim it’s choking off their supply of hope.

Told through the eyes of several characters, all are well fleshed out, have their own personal melodramas and internal struggles to sift through. Many eventually interact with each other and this ups the stakes. Through another character we can learn about the death we didn’t know about of someone we had already read about and attached to. Jumping from one person to another, while each is going through their own terrifying ordeals, keeps the adrenaline pumping.

The pace runs along well: from the beginning where a death already occurs, to the end that is surprising and in another way predictable. My eyes were glued to the pages as if I were hypnotized.

The style is written in a simple and straight forward manner.

It may have as good a plot as some, but there’s something special about it. I have read countless books over the years but this one was remembered while the others forgotten; I have recently re-read it and am just as delighted. It may appear like a light chiller at the top but this one runs canyon deep.