Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Book Review: Do What Godmother Says

Shanice Pierce knows better than to heed bad omens. But she has a hard time ignoring the signs when she finds herself newly single and out of a job on the same seemingly cursed day. Then, while cleaning out her grandmother’s house, Shanice comes across a painting she hasn’t seen in years. Drawn to the haunting portrait in a way she can't explain, Shanice accepts her grandmother’s offer to keep the family heirloom.

She soon uncovers the story of the artist, a Harlem Renaissance painter named Estelle Johnson. The young woman was taken under wing by the wealthy art patron Maude Bachmann—or “Godmother” as she insisted her artists call her—and vanished shortly after Bachmann’s brutal murder a century ago. As Shanice digs deeper, a paranoia that’s haunted her for years returns. She becomes convinced she’s being stalked, and that the deaths happening around her are connected to the staggering offer she turned down for the painting.

But the truth hiding in plain sight is even more shocking—and deadly—than Shanice could possibly have imagined.

Do As Godmother Says by L.S. Stratton will be published on June 11, 2024. Union Square and Company provided an early galley for review.

I had the pleasure to hear Shelley speak about her book at PLA2024 last month, and she was very excited to bring this story to readers. Her passion as well as an intriguing title and concept convinced me to check this one out.

Usually books with two narratives do not always work for me, especially when they split between the present and the past. I find myself invested more in one over the other, and then I am disappointed when we jump away from the one I am enjoying the most. Here, I was instantly pulled into the story of Estelle in the past while finding Shanice's story to initially be a little slower. As we spent more time with Shanice, I got more into those plot threads as they too started to ramp up in their own mystery.

At a certain point, I felt I had pieced together an important connection but needed to figure out how it might play out in the end. There were definitely several more twists to go, right through the final chapters, so it kept me guessing on how it would all come together.

In the end, I am intrigued by the Harlem Renaissance and want to learn more about it and the people involved.

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