The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

Written by Rita Leganski
Review by Pamela Ferrell Ortega

Leganski has created a tale filled with the languid charm and mysticism of the Louisiana bayou. Her story of little Bonaventure, born posthumously and mute but with extraordinary hearing, is suffused with the hauntings of family secrets, hidden guilt, voodoo, and love that transcends death itself. In the early 1950s, William Arrow, Bonaventure’s father, is murdered while running an errand for his wife, Dancy, two months before the child’s birth. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, Dancy agrees to move in with William’s intimidating, wealthy mother rather than with her own mother, a woman who is hypocritical and conniving.

As Bonaventure grows, no one realizes that his muteness is more than compensated by his otherworldly hearing. He can even hear “conjured charms and sanctified spirits deep in the marrow of New Orleans,” but more importantly, he’s visited often by the voice of his deceased father, who has delayed going to heaven until the people he loves most – his mother, wife, son – can be released from their sorrow and guilt and can permit themselves to go beyond his tragic death. Gentle Bonaventure discovers long-held family secrets and is the means by which his family can heal and be released from the mistakes and lost loves of the past.

This debut novel is a tour de force. It’s a beautifully, lyrically written fantasy and it captures the languorous mystery and allure of New Orleans in the wonderful love story between William and Dancy. Bonaventure is a believable little boy, not overly precocious but sensitive and loving. If you love New Orleans and vampires aren’t always your thing, read this book. It’s magical.