Conjure Women

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historical fiction

By Afia Atakora

Loved by our collective!

The woods conceal potent herbs, trickster foxes, and chilling secrets in this American Gothic portrayal of the role of folk medicine on American plantations in the antebellum period and immediately following the Civil War. The book follows a medicine woman born into slavery named Rue, whose inherited knowledge of hoodoo opens up opportunities to influence the complex power structure of the plantation, as well as accusations of consorting with the devil.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Conjure Woman is the strained “friendship” between Rue and the daughter of her enslaver, Varina. The two women are born into vastly different but intertwined lives. While the evil of the plantation owner, Marse Charles, is absolute, Varina is a victim in her own way to the gendered expectations of her circumstance. This makes the violence that spoiled but often “well-meaning” Varina enacts against Rue all the more devastating - a damning critique of the long tradition of white feminism.

Atakora exposes the sinister violence ingrained in plantation life while honoring the knowledge, ingenuity, and mediums of agency passed down between Black women of the era.

Read for: An ominous ambiance, complex characters, and wonderful use of symbolism to complete cycles and bring the story to a satisfying close

Content warnings: Physical and psychological violence against Black people, sexual violence, birth, miscarriage, abortion, and addiction.

Esmé, Firestorm Collective member

Product Details

416 pages
Random House (4/7/20)
6.1 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches


historical fiction

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