Firstly I should point out that this book does contain a fully active table of contents, so it is a doddle to find any particular story, always an advantage in a collection such as this. Chances are you may never have heard of Henry S Whitehead before, although you may recognise one or two stories in this collection as his tales do pop up from time to time in anthologies.
This collection here gives you the three books that contained his collected short stories, West India Lights, Jumbee, and The Black Beast, as well as a group of stories that were never originally published in these works. All of these tales fall into supernatural, occult or fantastical genres and this is a collection that should please quite a few people. Taking in Voodoo and other incidents the majority of these tales are set in the Caribbean (the US Virgin Islands), although other places do crop up in a few of these tales, and a lot feature a quite popular character invented by Whitehead, Gerald Canevin, who is sometimes accompanied by Dr Pelletier. Regularly in correspondence with H P Lovecraft, Lovecraft was an admirer of Whitehead’s tales, as were others.
What you will notice if you decide to read this book is that Whitehead manages to combine the mundane with the incredible, so for instance a chat over tea can lead on to an incredible tale of magic. This method is ideal for the stories that the author produced thus giving them a more effective and shocking note that instantly hits you. There are a lot of stories here, and I will admit in a couple of places there is some repetition of plot but this is to be expected where so many stories are brought together by one author. As Whitehead did live and carry out his ministry on the US Virgin Islands he did come into contact with and knew some things about Voodoo, how it works and what kind of spells,etc., are invoked which gives his tales a greater depth in particular cases.
This collection also includes an introduction which is quite well worth reading.
on 25 February 2013
I've been a collector of pulp tales for quite a while, but you do still have material that is hard to find - still an issue for eBooks, especially - but Voodoo Tales makes readily available again the stories of Henry S. Whitehead.
One caveat: be prepared to read how things were in the past, i. e. attitudes to race, etc as these were the beliefs at the time of writing. This is the case with a lot of pulp era fiction.
That said, these are wonderful stories that deserve reading. Windows on the past and weird fiction.
A definite must to cure readers sick of more formulaic authors.