My Soul to Keep

Tananarive Due
My Soul to Keep Cover

My Soul to Keep


I want to begin by saying that this is a very well written piece of urban fantasy. Considering all the urban fantasy out there that sucks, and all the lame and awful vampire/werewolf/ghost/witch in modern times books out there this one is definitely a winner. It has a broad scope and the story effectively wanders through time from ancient history to modern times (well semi-modern like the 90's so there is a bit of a disconnect there).

The plot is interesting and it is always nice to see these type of stories told authentically about African American people and their lives, worlds, and experiences. The story involves Jessica a young journalist and her husband Dawit who was a successful professor, linguist, and music historian before setting aside his career to take care of their daughter and focus on their family.

This novel has been compared to Interview With the Vampires which may make some people think that it has vampires in it. There are no vampires here, instead the supernatural element of this novel comes from ancient Ethiopian men who found a way to attain immortality. The comparison to Interview With the Vampires I think has to do with the span of history that is covered in telling the story, and witnessing the lives of these ancient men and their deeds. The comparison also comes from experiencing how having such long lives and being able to witness history unfolding may change a person and give them a skewed morality and sense of justice.

My problem with this book is that I cannot find myself remotely interested in the characters, their lives, or their internal situations. The story is interesting but they are not, and since I have to experience the story through them I really had trouble making myself read this book and finish it. Partially this had to do with the fact that both main characters are not very sympathetic to me. Dawit is selfish and divorced from any type of love for the world beyond his own little circle. Despite this, he is not really strong or convincing enough to be a villain either. His wife Jessica, on the other had, is kind of wishy-washy and flat. She is a young, fresh, and intelligent lady with her whole life ahead of her and lots of great opportunities coming her way in her career. Despite all of this she has a vague sense of dissatisfaction from the beginning but is never really strong enough to commit to a course of action without one of the people in her life pushing her to do something.

As I stated at the beginning of this review, the book is good and the premise and plot are interesting. The characters are what made it difficult for me to like this book much and in the end caused me to give it the low rating I did. I did like the authors writing style so while I know I will never revisit this series again, I may read some of her other works in the future.