Book Review

Review – Conjure Women by Afia Atakora


A stunning debut novel with echoes of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and Sara Collins’ The Confessions of Frannie Langton

The pale-skinned, black-eyed baby is a bad omen. That’s one thing the people on the old plantation are sure of. The other is that Miss Rue – midwife, healer, crafter of curses – will know what to do.

But for once Rue doesn’t know. Times have changed since her mother Miss May Belle held the power to influence the life and death of her fellow slaves. Freedom has come. The master’s Big House lies in ruins. But this new world brings new dangers, and Rue’s old magic may be no match for them.

When sickness sweeps across her tight-knit community, Rue finds herself the focus of suspicion. What secrets does she keep amidst the charred remains of the Big House? Which spells has she conjured to threaten their children? And why is she so wary of the charismatic preacher man who promises to save them all?

Rue understands fear. It has shaped her life and her mother’s before her. And now she knows she must face her fears – and her ghosts – to find a new way forward for herself and her people.

Conjure Women is a story of the lengths we’ll go to save the ones we love, from a stunning new voice in fiction.

My Review:

What an incredible and powerful debut!

I have been wanting to read more stories about slavery and this book is exactly what I wanted. Compared to other books I have read in the same genre, Conjure Women indeed stood out to be one of the most original and unforgettable one.

Intertwined between two timelines, before the civil war and after the civil war in a plantation Deep South, we follow the story of a conjure woman Belle, her daughter Rue and Varina, the daughter of the slave owner. These three women are the centre of this remarkable story and have taken us on a horrifying but powerful journey. There are gruesome details, the inhuman injustices, the unthinkable tragedies but there are, beneath all these, the sweetness of youth and the unbelievable strength to fight for survival.

This is in no way a fast read. It has such rich details of the daily life of salves in a plantation, their belief, their culture and most of all, it is in those details that we see them as their own person, we see them as who they really are, someone who has their own identity. It is so harrowing but at the same time eye-opening. With author’s uniqued lyrical proses, this book has really captivated me from start to finish.

This is one painful history to all of us to remember, especially now. It is devastating to see some of the injustices are still happening today. You would always wonder when will this all end? When will we, as a human kind, will finally come together as one, and treat each other equally? This book has made me think over and over. This painful history should act as a reminder and pursue us to eternity.

Thank you so much 4th Estate for gifting me this beautiful copy to review!

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