Monday, December 17, 2012

The Best Books About Marie Laveau

If you're interested in reading about Marie Laveau, there are three books to choose from. I recommend reading all three, but if you don't have the time, I've compared them in this article to help you choose.


This was the easiest and most interesting read. Ward paints a vivid and fascinating picture of New Orleans and voodoo. It was the first book I read about Marie, and it inspired me to write my novel.

Despite its creativity, the book was not well received by scholars. Ward hardly cites any of her sources. She describes people being in places they never were and feeling ways we have no idea whether or not they felt. 

TO SUM UP: If you're a scholar, you can skip this book. It doesn't present any information that isn't in other works, and Ward takes too many creative liberties. If you just want to be entertained while learning about a fantastic woman, I'd recommend this.


There are so many lies about Marie Laveau, it's hard to know what's real and what's not. Carolyn Long is an archivist and she searched through records to verify every fact she presents with primary sources. She explains where every rumor originated. 

While this was my favorite of the three biographies, it's not meant for entertainment. Since it's a string of facts, one might find her work a little dry. Also, since she doesn't include anything that isn't a hard fact, it left me with a lot of questions, such as why Marie might have become famous in the first place.

TO SUM UP: This was my favorite of the three books, and I use it the most in my novel. Without theories and what-ifs, however, your knowledge of Marie Laveau will be incomplete. If you're serious about studying this topic, reading Fandrich's book in conjunction with Long's is essential.


Good luck finding a copy of this. It's a college thesis and if it isn't in your university's library, it'll cost you $130. Next year, it will be available as an ebook, thank goodness.

While Long's book presents the facts, Fandrich delivers the context. She gets into African culture, the voodoo religion, and the status of free women of color in New Orleans to help you understand who Marie might have been.

TO SUM UP: Since this book includes both fact and conjecture, is the most comprehensive of the three biographies.


I didn't bother including Robert Tallant's book. His work is bigoted, racist, and inaccurate. He actually made up a few interviews! Experts place a lot of blame on him for the negative stereotype given to voodoo. 

Interestingly, Tallant died a sudden and mysterious death. Coincidence?

5 comments:

  1. There are no coincidences. Cue the spooky music. :-) Voodoo and Marie Laveau play crucial roles in several of my books. (Don't cringe; I'm not going to hawk them on your very own blog - how shabby would that be?)

    I have always been fascinated with Marie Laveau and in my own research discovered she is no one to be trifled with. The world of Old New Orleans has its own mystery and allure -- but stay out of the shadows, right?

    May VOODOO QUEEN have the highest sales, Roland

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  2. I'd never heard of her before this post! Interesting and creepy!

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  3. I'd heard her name in passing when people spoke of the power of voodoo, however I know very little of the woman herself. Seems she was quite the character to know at the time she was alive and just as interesting even now.

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  4. I'm surprised you didn't like Robert Tallant's book. You can't take it as bigoted, it was the times. He wrote with others on Gumbo Ya Ya also which is a definitive book on South Louisiana folklore written in 1945. Having grown up there I found it pretty spot on.

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  5. I'm surprised you didn't like Robert Tallant's book. You can't take it as bigoted, it was the times. He wrote with others on Gumbo Ya Ya also which is a definitive book on South Louisiana folklore written in 1945. Having grown up there I found it pretty spot on.

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