Corina's Way

A Novel

Title Details

Pages: 268

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 06/01/2015

ISBN: 9-781-6030-6373-9

List Price: $24.95


NewSouth Books

Related Subjects

FICTION / General

Corina's Way

A Novel

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

Winner of the PEN/Southwest Fiction Award

The Reverend Corina Youngblood, minister of the African Spiritual Church of Mercy, is a woman powered by Jesus and the santos. Her corner store, St. Jude Lamb of Light Botanica, which caters to the eclectic religious and spiritual needs of New Orleans, is threatened by her Cuban ex-lover and mentor Elroy Delgago's plans to open a K-mart-like Superbotanica nearby. Gus Houston, a displaced former army officer now ersatz chaplain at an exclusive girl's school, stumbles into Corina's store, discovers her mesmerizing powers, and strikes up a profitable and prophetic relationship, sending Corina his troubled students for consultation. When Gus hits on the idea of entering the wealthy white girls into the gospel singing competition during the Jazzfest, he triggers a series of events that has all sides evoking the spirits for good and ill. Davis combines religion, voodoo, New Age philosophy, and good old-fashioned capitalism, greed, envy and a host of other unsavory motives in his entertaining first novel.

Mix a little voodoo ritual, a little love, and a little hate, and you have one intriguing novel.

—Tom Black, Southern Living

The author takes readers on a ride filled with plot twists and turns ... (Readers) will undoubtedly enjoy this roller-coaster story ...

—Charles Ealy, Dallas Morning News

A charming guide to a world most of us will never get to visit ...

—San Antonio Express-News

Rod Davis is a good guide to the New Orleans underworld of voodoo and botanicas, and his novel is a lively account of the people who circulate in that twilit realm dealing in magic and spells, and occasionally love and rivalry. His heroine, Corina, is from a long line of spellbinding women, from Circe to Carmen, who give their hearts away but always with one eye open. A fine first novel by a seasoned writer.

—Paul Christensen, author of West of the American Dream: An Encounter with Texas

Rod Davis’s Corina’s Way is ... a racy tour down the side streets of New Orleans—as Kurt Vonnegut might conduct it—rich with the clash of cultures, alive with Afro-Cuban santos, dark with duplicity and danger, and healed by a gospel chorale. Corina’s Way is a fast-paced tale that leaves you thinking.

—Tony Dunbar, author of Crooked Man and the Tubby Dubonnet mystery series

A lighthearted but spicy bouillabaisse, New Orleans-set, by Texas journalist Davis ... Corina Youngblood may never have made it through divinity school, but she is a bona fide priestess of Santeria, the African melange of Christianity and animism that arrived with the slaves and still survives. The proprietress of a small botanica in New Orleans, Corina dispenses spiritual advice and herbal remedies to her modest but loyal clientele who come to her with complaints about everything from their teeth to their love lives. In the tradition of Flannery O’Connor or John Kennedy Toole: a welcome romp, told in an old-fashioned style and with traditional southern charm.

—Kirkus Reviews

Hats off to Rod Davis who has made the arcane intricacies of voodoo enjoyable and coherent. Corina is an unforgettable character, and her squabble with former lover and big-boy botanica-supplier Delgado makes for a delightful adventure. After reading Corina's Way, you'll want to hop a plane for New Orleans and look for a real-life Corina, hosting the spirits at some local traffic crossing.

—Margot Fortunato Galt, author of The Story in History and other works

Rod Davis's novel, Corina's Way, is an absorbing tale of Corina Youngblood, a New Orleans spiritual healer in the African/Haitian derived practice of 'Santos'. Corina's efforts in the healing work of the body and soul becomes a meditation on American marketplace culture, where even emotional well being can be turned into a commodity. But in a powerfully rendered climactic scene, Rod Davis makes a thrilling and transcendent gesture that lifts his characters and readers, if only briefly, out of our all too human craving for whatever we want at the expense of others.

—Wesley Brown, author of Tragic Magic and Darktown Strutters

(Rod Davis) is the literary heir to Walker Percy and John Kennedy Toole. Corina’s Way begs for a sequel.

—Eric Nye, Biloxi Sun Herald

Davis exploits rich fictional potential ... Davis obviously knows his stuff, and he captures the appeal of voudou for even the casual spiritual tourist, and its meaning for the true believer. Corina Youngblood is a compelling creation ... characters are well drawn and appealing, and the novel moves along at a fine pace ... With nods to both Walker Percy in its thoughtfulness and John Kennedy Toole in its rambunctious humor, Corina’s Way, an insightful and affectionate tribute to New Orleans, is the perfect summertime offering, no matter what saints you pray to.

—Lolis Elie, The Times-Picayune

Corina’s Way is a triumph in Southern storytelling ... a bubbling pot of clever insanity. Davis’s pen leaks wit and cunning on each page ... Each chapter flows seamlessly and we discover something of ourselves in each realistically crafted individual ... a beautiful stroke of fiction.

—Capital City Free Press

Davis combines religion, voodoo, New Age philosophy, and good old-fashioned capitalism, greed, envy, and a host of other unsavory motives in his entertaining first novel.


Only a writer with authentic, detailed knowledge of the everyday world of modern voodoo, hoodoo, and santeria practices in the United States could have brought together the rich elements provided in this compelling first novel. Only a storyteller forcefully bringing firsthand knowledge of them from that world could have produced it. Rod Davis is the author blending these powers together and the result is the fast-paced, rewarding prose of Corina’s Way.

—LaVerne Harrell Clark, winner of the 1998 Medicine Pipe Bearer’s Novel Award of Western Writers of America, author of Keepers of the Earth

Make room on that crammed New Orleans shelf for Corina's Way, a multi-layered tale of suspense about our mysterious underbelly and its all-seeing navel.

—Andrei Codrescu, author of Messiah

Davis captures the essence of New Orleans ... [Davis] nails the complicated racial and religious stew that makes up bayou culture, and his witty, fast style perfectly complements the clever premise.

—Publishers Weekly

Davis sets an authentic tone for his first novel. The soul of the book rings true ...

—Foreword Reviews

Rod Davis has written a very knowing and hilarious account of Corina, a streetwise Pentecostal psychic turned Voodoo priestess who sees her ‘santos’ in all the bywaters and back streets of the Big Easy. Davis knows how hip and modern these ancient African gods of ‘voodoo’ really are. Mixing up Jesus and Shango, Oshun and St. Jude, Corina has her way in a world of Leather Lounge bartenders, Garden District school girls, Cuban hustlers, and those preternaturally corrupt politicians who seem to flourish best in the crooked reaches of southern Louisiana.

—Donald J. Cosentino, UCLA professor, author of The Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou and Vodou Things

Davis's debut novel is truly creole — a madcap blend of voudou botanicas, Cuban developers, upper echelon girls' school shenanigans, love affairs, JazzFest horrors, and good ol' crime, New Orleans style. Corina's way is to evoke the spirits to do what's right. Davis's tour of New Orleans should be on every visitor's docket. He captures the steamy, cockeyed, and seedy side of the city while embracing its many charms and quirks.

—John Martin Taylor

More than any author I know Rod Davis understands and knows that hidden Southern space where the ancient currents of African spirituality still linger in the American soul. Corina's Way, a story of faith and redemption, is a wonderful and powerful novel, a stunning fictional debut from an author who has already brought us what is arguably the finest account of Voudou in America.

—Wade Davis


PEN Southwest Fiction Award, PEN America

About the Author/Editor

ROD DAVIS is an award-winning author and journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications. He has served on the senior staff of several major magazines, including a stint as editor of The Texas Observer. He taught writing at the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University and was a guest at the Yaddo Colony. He is author of American Voudou: Journey into a Hidden World (UNT Press). His work is included in David Byrne’s True Stories (Penguin) and Best American Travel Writing 2002 (Houghton-Mifflin). An eighth-generation Texan, he lives in San Antonio.