91eBRba43ZLReviewed by Kathie Smith

The Virgin Islands have just transferred from Danish rule to territories of the United States and there is great speculation among the local residents about what this may mean. There is hope of gaining US citizenship, apprehension over a new government and resentment about having their land and themselves traded like commodities between other nations.

Land of Love and Drowning is the story of the Bradshaw sisters, Eeona and Annette, daughters of one of the most highly esteemed families on the island. Owen Arthur Bradshaw, the patriarch of the family, has made decisions that will ultimately turn his family upside down. Tragedy strikes not long after Annette is born and she is raised with none of the advantages afforded to Eeona. Used to a life of privilege, Eeona struggles to adjust to the distinctive customs of the islands during this time of change and uncertainty while Annette acclimates easily due to her young age.

The consequences of Mr. Bradshaw’s love affair with the local obeah, Rebekah, chart the course for the future of both Bradshaw sisters. Eeona is burdened with a secret she is reluctant to acknowledge let alone share with those most likely to be impacted by the information. Annette is haunted by a lost love she can cannot rekindle, ignore or hide. Very little, if any, of Annette or Eeona’s expectations from life are met, but they instinctually persevere through every obstacle they encounter as is engrained in the people of the Caribbean. There is also the hope that maybe, somehow, their hopes will become their realities.

Social changes, both personal and national, mysticism, forbidden love, desire, despair and hope meld into the rich Caribbean culture to capture a dynamic background for the story of the Bradshaw family. Stories told by many points of view are often difficult to follow which makes Yanique’s adept use of technique all the more impressive. The many voices in Land of Love and Drowning weave a powerful family saga.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Kathie is a writer, wife, mother and volunteer living in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Her passion for the written word is fulfilled by creating her own fictional work, freelancing, acting as an adviser to another author, and reading with her six year old daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Riverhead. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.