by Jess Mowry Print book : Fiction
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Gangs vs Ghosts   (2008-10-01)
Evil always lingers in a land where men have enslaved other men. This evil is discovered by Kodi Carver, a 14-year-old African-American boy from Cleveland, Ohio, who spends his summers in New Orleans. There with Raney Douglas, his alligator-wrestling, bayou cousin, he helps his magical Aunt Simone with Voodu ceremonies for tourists in his aunt's haunted house. By day, Kodi and Raney cruise the hot, steamy streets of the Old French Quarter, where other kids sell Voodoo charms and vampire teeth, or dance for money. By night, Kodi and Raney become Voodoo boys in loincloths and bones. The audience thinks it's all showtime, but a lot of the magic is real. Kodi is his aunt's apprentice, but he doesn't always do his homework or study his Voodoo lessons, which sometimes gets him in trouble. On the earthly level, Kodi's father believes that his son is safer in New Orleans than in the violent neighborhoods of Cleveland. But Kodi is almost capped on his aunt's doorstep by an eight-year-old banger named Newton, who was sent out to kill to prove himself worthy of membership in a gang called The Skeleton Crew. Kodi and Raney capture Newton. For awhile they don't trust him and chain him to a bed with an ancient slave collar. But then Newton sees that gang-banging is stupid. Then, Kodi and his posse of Voodu Dawgz, including a young street dancer, a girl who works in an ice-cream shop, and a mysterious Vampire-boy, have to fight a ghost and real bullets to save themselves, as well as the thugs who are trying to kill them.
This is a fast-paced and exciting book that combines ghosts and magic with real world problems of innercity kids. The characters are real kids like you'd meet on the street. Besides fighting ghosts (not all ghosts are bad) they have all the usual problems of being young teens, like meeting girls and making money. There is also a lot of history in this book and you learn a lot without even knowing you did. The descriptions of the Old French Quarter make you see what it's like there, and you learn things like why oven tombs are called oven tombs, why people aren't buried underground in New Orleans, and why Marie Laveau still gets mail even though she's been dead for 200 years.
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