Madame Lilly begins her life as a girl named Odara. Her mother is Creole, her father French. At the end of the 1800s, in Louisiana, it was considered "normal" for wealthy men to take on a common-law wife, and have a family outside of their "traditional" marriage. Her parents are one such relationship. As she grows up, her mother teaches her the things that she needs to know so that she, too, can grow up to find a husband like her mother did. But Odara is headstrong and different, and she wants nothing to do with this thing called placage. Until she meets a work associate of her father's and everything changes. But things are not always as perfect as we would like them to be, and she finds this out on our wedding night. There is only so much one woman can take, and this is the story of what can happen when that woman finally hits her breaking point.
The whole idea of this story grabbed my attention and I was hooked from the first page, so much so that I read the first two books in one sitting.
Odara/Madame Lilly really is something else - the author wrote her so well that I immediately felt a bond with her and understood what she was going through, and why she finally did what she had to do. And BOY was what she had to do ... I have no words. Interesting (that's the word I always end up using when I don't know what word to use) doesn't even begin to cut it. The idea of voodoo and magic has always been something I found interesting and this book definitely has both.
The side characters - Henry, Theolus, Hearon, Elijah, Sophie - did not feel like side characters, but instead main characters along with Odara. Henry evolves in this book, and becomes something beyond what I expected; Theolus, Hearon and Elijah are characters that we get a glimpse of, but learn more about later, and they are intriguing; Sophie is enlightening, learning a little bit about her, but not as much as I wanted to know.
The book does end with some unanswered questions, some things not yet finished, obviously setting it up for the second book. (Hint: The second book is worth reading the first one.)
Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Please remember that this review is my opinion based on my personal impressions of the book.