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  • Writer's pictureTrevor McQueen

"Ash Tuesday" Book Review by Trevor McQueen

If you type "funniest book ever" into your search bar, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole is always in the top three. Published in 1980, Confederacy follows the misadventures of a lively cast of characters in New Orleans. This story was the first that came to mind after reading Ariadne Blayde's Ash Tuesday.

Ash Tuesday similarly follows New Orleanians, specifically tour guides specializing in haunted tours. Unlike the humorous Confederacy, Ash Tuesday is darker and gritty. Each of Blayde's characters has demons, demons you would never guess your smiling, joking coworker had until it was too late. The relatability and realness of these characters and their problems had me hooked from the beginning. These tour guides vent their anger and sorrows through the stories they tell on their haunted tours. Such tours run every night in New Orleans. If you are fortunate enough to take one, you will hear most, if not all, of the stories recited in Ash Tuesday. They are a reminder that not everything is as it seems.

Blayde also succeeded in including a certain unnamed character: the city itself. New Orleans is bright and vibrant on the surface, as any Travel Channel show will highlight. But when the sun sets over the Big Easy, it becomes almost unrecognizable. Ash Tuesday accurately showcases this duality of New Orleans.

This may be a more difficult read for those who prefer plot-driven storylines. Ash Tuesday is a character-driven novel featuring 11 remarkable tour guides to follow, each with 99 triggering problems. Not for the faint of heart. Despite her character-focused writing, Blayde still composes a strong plot and story of grief shared by each character.

I highly recommend this book for a taste of the culture of New Orleans. Our culture is not the food, the music, or the history seen on television. It can truly be found in the cooks, the musicians, and the storytellers - the people who make it happen. And you can trust Ariadne Blayde's storytelling as she is a haunted tour guide herself!

10/10! (And yes, I cried at the end)

Buy a copy for yourself here:

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