Sidonie Verdier and Gabriel Saint-Martin are neighbors who live worlds apart. Born in 1840s western Louisiana, Sidonie is the only surviving child of an impoverished white Creole cotton planter, who abandoned his home and pregnant wife. When her mother dies in childbirth, Sidonie is left to the care of Adelis, a midwife and former slave. The growing bond between the two is cemented when Adelis realizes that they share a gift—the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. As she grows older, Sidonie also discovers that she has a singular talent for music, passed down from her mysterious and beautiful mother. But when Sidonie’s father returns with plans to reclaim the plantation, forge his daughter into a proper Creole lady, and sell her into marriage to the highest bidder, Adelis and Sidonie’s fragile peace is shattered.
Meanwhile, on a neighboring plantation, Gabriel is leading the privileged yet fraught life of a free black sugar-planter’s only son. He chafes under the expectation that he will inherit the plantation, dreaming instead of a career in medicine far beyond the confines of his remote, rural home. When Gabriel is sent to fetch Adelis for the birth of his mother’s seventh child, his orbit collides with Sidonie’s, leading to passionate, forbidden love and a tragedy that will destroy his family, revealing the tangled bloodlines that bind them all.
From backwoods bayous to the corrupt, glittering decadence of antebellum New Orleans, THE ONE UNSPOKEN peels back the barbed layers of the Code Noir, which governed both free and enslaved African-Americans. It conjures a shimmering world of voodoo curses, extravagant affairs, and skeletons in family closets.