Book Review

Conjure Women – Afia Atakora

Book Title: Conjure Women


Author: Afia Atakora

Goodreads Link: Click here

Release Date:  7/7/20

Star Rating:  – Historical Fiction

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing–and for the conjuring of curses–are at the heart of this dazzling first novel

Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife; and their master’s daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women and their community come to a head at the beginning of a war and at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear and a spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom.
– Goodreads

Conjure Women is a work of historical fiction, and a debut novel for this author, who is certainly very skilled. The book is rich in symbolism and piercing social commentary. The complicated plot follows the connection between three women in particular. The enslaved mother & conjurer, her daughter and the white woman who owns them. It explores the ways that relationships between women, between masters and the enslaved can be both intimate and bitter.

I didn’t rate the book higher because I had difficulty connecting to the main character, and the jumps in time back and forth made piecing the plot together a little more work than usual. Lingering confusion over what is happening can take you out of a story and I think that’s what influenced my feelings about the book. It is a good book, and probably deserves a deeper reading than I was able to put into it at this time.

I don’t know about any of you, but living in the time we are makes it harder for me to concentrate. I need something to take me out of this current reality, full of fears about coronavirus, being an essential worker and all the worries that come with it. I know you’re all probably feeling much the same. I do hope, however, that this book doesn’t suffer from being released at a time when we are maybe not as ready to read it. I think it deserves to be studied much more closely.


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