Denise Alvarado is a great storyteller and what better city to tell the tales of! If you take an interest in the Crescent City and all the spiritual paths that make her unique then these tales of historical figures, legendary characters and even canonized saints that make up the spiritual pantheon, guardian spirits, and folklore of New Orleans will surely catch your fancy.

Each chapter focuses on one person or spirit, either historic, mythological or part of religious doctrine, selected for their importance in the cultural or spiritual legacy of New Orleans. To name a few: Annie Christmas, Saint Expedite, Marie Laveau, Pere Antoine, Papa Legba, Lala Hopkins, Saint Anthony of Padua and Black Hawk. Alvarado researched historical records, newspapers, Federal Writers’ Project and the Louisiana Writers’ Project, amongst many other sources. As a native New Orleanian, she is interested in historical accuracy and authenticity. This is her culture. A few times she brings up the misconceptions perpetuated by American Horror Story and sets the record straight.

Witch Queens, Voodoo Spirits & Hoodoo Saints is so entertaining you might not notice how much you learn. For instance, that the Spanish Inquisition reached the shores of Louisiana. Or that back in the day the government sponsored interviews of Louisianans about voodoo queens and brick dust vendors. The research, cultural familiarity and personal ties Alvarado holds with the city all make for an engrossing book.

~review by Larissa Carlson

Author: Denis Alvarado
Red Wheel Weiser, 2010 & 2022
pp. 221, $16.95