Conjure Women
A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing--and for the conjuring of curses--are at the heart of this dazzling first novelConjure 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.Magnificently written, brilliantly researched, richly imagined, Conjure Women moves back and forth in time to tell the haunting story of Rue, Varina, and May Belle, their passions and friendships, and the lengths they will go to save themselves and those they love.

Conjure Women Details

TitleConjure Women
Author
ReleaseApr 7th, 2020
PublisherRandom House
ISBN-139780525511489
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Adult

Conjure Women Review

  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    My first five star book of the year and a first novel to boot. Many years back I read a book, The Healing, that made a huge impression and a book I have never forgotten. This is another book that I would place in that class, another never to be forgotten story.With nary a misstep in plot, tone or character develop, Atakora takes us to a slave holding plantation in the South. The book covers the period before the Civil War and after. What makes this book so special is that I didn't feel like an My first five star book of the year and a first novel to boot. Many years back I read a book, The Healing, that made a huge impression and a book I have never forgotten. This is another book that I would place in that class, another never to be forgotten story.With nary a misstep in plot, tone or character develop, Atakora takes us to a slave holding plantation in the South. The book covers the period before the Civil War and after. What makes this book so special is that I didn't feel like an observer but was drawn into the story, feeling as if I were a part of what was going to happen.The story follows a slave conjuring woman and her daughter Rue, which is also my granddaughters name) and the last mistress of the house Verita. After the war, the slaves stay on at the plantation, now ownerless, and their lives take many twists and turns. Their lives during slavery was often beyond terrible and after, the freedom they have still enactes a high cost. So many things happen in this book, the details, descriptions are incredible, all serve to make this a compulsive read.. Definitely will go on my favorites shelf, and it will take a strong contender to displace this for my favorite of the year.The ending, though surprising, was just about perfect.ARC from Edelweiss.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    A powerful debut novel by this author.The story is about emancipated slaves continuing to live on the plantation theyve lived on for many years, after its destruction during the Civil War.It centers most around a healer (conjure woman) Miss May Belle, her daughter Rue, and Varina.. the daughter of the white plantation owner.The story goes back and forth in time showing how they had to live pre and post civil war times.Miss May Belle was called upon for healing and the casting of spells and A powerful debut novel by this author.The story is about emancipated slaves continuing to live on the plantation they’ve lived on for many years, after its destruction during the Civil War.It centers most around a healer (conjure woman) Miss May Belle, her daughter Rue, and Varina.. the daughter of the white plantation owner.The story goes back and forth in time showing how they had to live pre and post civil war times.Miss May Belle was called upon for healing and the casting of spells and midwifery before the war.. following her death after the war, Rue takes over..when she delivers a baby with a caul.. and other children start getting ill, people start wondering if she is a witch.The slaves where now free but continuing to live on this ruined plantation.. they didn’t really know anything of the outside world, freedom hadn’t yet changed their lives.Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for this ARC!
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  • Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestCONJURE WOMEN is like if John Steinbeck sat down and wrote about the black experience during the Civil War. It's just as epic in scope and the author, Afia Atakora, does a really good job showing people at their best and at their worst in the microcosm of plantation life. I was so impressed by the depth and complexity of all the characters, especially the two main characters, Rue and May Belle, who are the healing women on the plantation Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestCONJURE WOMEN is like if John Steinbeck sat down and wrote about the black experience during the Civil War. It's just as epic in scope and the author, Afia Atakora, does a really good job showing people at their best and at their worst in the microcosm of plantation life. I was so impressed by the depth and complexity of all the characters, especially the two main characters, Rue and May Belle, who are the healing women on the plantation and sometimes due hideously cruel things when their own selfishness and desperation to survive overrides their mission to do no harm.The novel is told in pieces. The wartime parts are narrated by May Belle, a respected woman on the plantation who delivers the babies and does all the healing. Her position is thrown into flux, though, as her daughter slowly comes of age and with her, the daughter of the plantation, Varina. Brought up in relative shelter from the crueler machinations of the plantation, Rue has grown up blind to what white people are capable of. That blind eye has some glaring repercussions for Rue and her mother.The second piece of the novel is narrated after the war. Rue has now taken over her mother's duties, but she lacks her mother's warmth and her people regard her with suspicion and fear, especially when a mysterious plague starts to afflict the children, causing them to sicken and die. Rue's foothold of power and respect is then thrown into question when a preacher named Abel comes and his biblical variety of salvation proves more imminently consumable and palatable than her own.I loved this book so much. In addition to the Steinbeck comparison for its simple but elegant brutality of the written word, I would say that this book also reminded me a lot of Octavia Butler's KINDRED. It's one of the more nuanced books of the Civil War-era South I have ever read. There are some scenes towards the end that are very hard to read, including torture and rape, but it's never too graphic, isn't lingered on, and is crucial to the story.Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!4 to 4.5 stars
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  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    "As a slave woman [Miss May Belle] made her name...by crafting curse...Hoodoo...is black folks currency...a white man would come from afar having heard of Miss May Belle's conjure, asking for cure of some affliction set upon him...by slave...by his own white wife." May Belle and her daughter Rue lived in a cabin they shared alone "a privilege to be sure". Miss May Belle birthed every baby at Marse Charles [her master's] plantation. Marse asked if May Belle was teaching her daughter Rue "her "As a slave woman [Miss May Belle] made her name...by crafting curse...Hoodoo...is black folks currency...a white man would come from afar having heard of Miss May Belle's conjure, asking for cure of some affliction set upon him...by slave...by his own white wife." May Belle and her daughter Rue lived in a cabin they shared alone "a privilege to be sure". Miss May Belle birthed every baby at Marse Charles [her master's] plantation. Marse asked if May Belle was teaching her daughter Rue "her knowledge"...[It] keeps my child in his ownership and I make her worth the owning."Rue learned the art of healing within the time frame of the Civil War. At this time, Rue was often "off mischiefing" with Miss Varnia, the red-headed daughter of the plantation owner. May Belle was soon to give up midwifery and healing. She "...stopped wanting to touch mamas or their baby joy"...after her man was hanged. Rue routinely delivered babies and tended the sick.Slavery had ended. "Freedom had come after the war for all black folks. All excepting Rue,...for she was born to healing and stuck to it for life...a secret curse of her own making...just as easy as folks praise came, it could turn to hating...magic and faith were fickle...". Bean was "a seemingly accursed baby" delivered by Rue ..."a devil...she made...in the woods from river water, from clay...a haint and blight against the townspeople...distrust heaped upon him, as soon as he blinked open his bean-black eyes..."."Conjure Women", a debut novel by Afia Atakora, describes the life of Rue, born into slavery, taught the art of healing and birthing by her mother, May Belle. Schooled in the old ways in times of slavery, during the Civil War, Rue was ill prepared for post-war freedom. "...Freedom was a word with weights. It meant deciding to stay or to go". Author Atakora masterfully paints a picture of Varnia, the Southern belle, Black-eyed Bean, and travelling preacher Bruh Abel as well. I highly recommend this work of historical fiction.Thank you Random House Publishing Group-Random House and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Conjure Women".
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  • Sarah-Hope
    January 1, 1970
    Conjure Women is a richly structured novel, moving between the last years of southern slavery and the risky freedom that followed. Multiple stories play out in alteration, informing each other, as well as functioning on their own. Because I kept wanting the next part of this two-sided puzzle, I found Conjure Women a very difficult book to put down.Conjure Women does nothing to "whitewash" either slavery or the dangerous years after it, but it also doesn't indulge in gratuitous violence. There is Conjure Women is a richly structured novel, moving between the last years of southern slavery and the risky freedom that followed. Multiple stories play out in alteration, informing each other, as well as functioning on their own. Because I kept wanting the next part of this two-sided puzzle, I found Conjure Women a very difficult book to put down.Conjure Women does nothing to "whitewash" either slavery or the dangerous years after it, but it also doesn't indulge in gratuitous violence. There is cruelty, both across and within races. There are also badly made choices, when characters, addressing pressing needs, create entirely news set of problems and injustices. Afia Atakora's insight into the complicated natures of human identity and desires gives us a world both blemished and carefully observed.Given the wonderful quality of its plotting, characters, and prose, I feel compelled to call Conjure Women on of this years must-read novels. Don't miss it.I received a free electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The opinions are my own.
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  • Jenni
    January 1, 1970
    Upon finishing this book, I knew that I needed to read more books by Afia Atakora. A quick search tells me Conjure Women is actually her debut novel? All I can say to that is wow.Set just before, during, and after the American Civil War in the antebellum south, this striking novel tells the story of healer and slave Miss May Belle, her daughter and somewhat reluctant protege, Rue, and their masters daughter, Varina. Rue and Varina are the same age and grow up together amidst the brutality and Upon finishing this book, I knew that I needed to read more books by Afia Atakora. A quick search tells me Conjure Women is actually her debut novel? All I can say to that is… wow.Set just before, during, and after the American Civil War in the antebellum south, this striking novel tells the story of healer and slave Miss May Belle, her daughter and somewhat reluctant protege, Rue, and their master’s daughter, Varina. Rue and Varina are the same age and grow up together amidst the brutality and tragedy of slavery on a southern plantation. Secrets, lies, betrayals, magic, and spiritualism pervade the story of this community of slaves as they become free men and women and their struggles continue.Atakora’s writing is fantastic and affecting. All of the characters are well-developed and authentic, but Rue especially stole my heart. What a beautifully complex and layered character. She’s very much a product of her life and environment , but she’s alsoindependent, smart and headstrong.This is definitely not an easy read—as one expects, its dark, heartbreaking, and full of terribleness. It feels realistic, painful, and important, and despite all of the sadness, this book has much to offer of joy and hope. Rue, May Belle, and Varina will stick with me for a long while.
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  • Grace
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely LOVED this book! Conjure Women is Atakora's debut novel and includes elements of plantation and slavery life as well as magic, healing and all things in between. We are first introduced to Rue, who is a midwife/healer in a small town that mainly consists of recently freed slaves after the end of the Civil War. Throughout the story we gain a better Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely LOVED this book! Conjure Women is Atakora's debut novel and includes elements of plantation and slavery life as well as magic, healing and all things in between. We are first introduced to Rue, who is a midwife/healer in a small town that mainly consists of recently freed slaves after the end of the Civil War. Throughout the story we gain a better understanding of Rue's life after the war and before the war with her mother who was also a midwife and healer. During her life after the war, Rue helps to deliver a little boy whom she names Bean. The town becomes convinced that Bean is cured and connects that back to Rue who in turn needs to earn back the faith and trust of the town. Atakora masterfully transports the reader to pre and post Civill War times and holds nothing back when describing the harsh life of those during the Civil War. the stories of Rue and her mother May Belle were entrancing and I found myself not only getting lost within their stories and hardships, but I found myself investing in everyone else in the town. My heart broke for Bean. This was a bit of a heavy read, and while it wasn't a page turner in the way a good mastery or thriller is, it was enough for me to want to keep reading and know what happened next. This is a powerfully good read and I can not wait for 2020 so I can have in on my shelf!
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book that meanders through time, characters and stories which are rich and gorgeously written. It was easy to get lot in them and enjoy each for what it was communicating and portraying, telling the stories of the same characters both before the Civil War and then after. Then, at some point, you suddenly realize these stories are the pieces of one big puzzle you didn't even realize were clicking right into place. Once you get that, it's a race to get to the end. Really. You can't turn This is a book that meanders through time, characters and stories which are rich and gorgeously written. It was easy to get lot in them and enjoy each for what it was communicating and portraying, telling the stories of the same characters both before the Civil War and then after. Then, at some point, you suddenly realize these stories are the pieces of one big puzzle you didn't even realize were clicking right into place. Once you get that, it's a race to get to the end. Really. You can't turn the pages fast enough. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy. Opinions are my own.
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  • Shirleynature
    January 1, 1970
    Powerful & vivid magical realism in a heartbreaking era of our history, wow! Conjure Women is a lyrical character-wise debut. Rue is at the center of this story; shes coming-of-age and learning to be a midwife from her mom, May Belle. They are the Conjure Women on the southern plantation where they are enslaved. Mystical natural elements are revealed in vivid scenes as Rue searches for medicinal plants and mysterious foxes wonder the woods. With compelling insight into human nature, Powerful & vivid magical realism in a heartbreaking era of our history, wow! Conjure Women is a lyrical character-wise debut. Rue is at the center of this story; she’s coming-of-age and learning to be a midwife from her mom, May Belle. They are the Conjure Women on the southern plantation where they are enslaved. Mystical natural elements are revealed in vivid scenes as Rue searches for medicinal plants and mysterious foxes wonder the woods. With compelling insight into human nature, community and the heartbreaking antebellum & reconstruction eras of our history, this book will offer rewarding book club discussions! Comparable books include: Beloved by Toni Morrison, Song Yet Sung by James McBride and The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.Thanks to publisher Random House, I was able to read this book in advance.
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  • Renee (The B-Roll)
    January 1, 1970
    This book follows several African slaves, both women and families, and their white owners, in both the antebellum and Civil War-era United States on a specific plantation in the South over several spans of time.  This story is told from a very diverse timeline, as it jumps back and forth between slavery time and war time, but later as the narrative changes the timeline also changes.  We learn about Miss May Belle who is the local healer and witch, along with her daughter Rue.  Both women, This book follows several African slaves, both women and families, and their white owners, in both the antebellum and Civil War-era United States on a specific plantation in the South over several spans of time.  This story is told from a very diverse timeline, as it jumps back and forth between slavery time and war time, but later as the narrative changes the timeline also changes.  We learn about Miss May Belle who is the local healer and witch, along with her daughter Rue.  Both women, through time change and morph into strong and independent women who make do with their lives even in the obscene hardship they are placed in.  Throughout this book there are also several other character that take center stage, including Varina, the master's daughter.  This book is ultimately a meditation on womanhood, family, strength, and friendship and what each of those parts of humanity mean when placed in strained circumstances.    First of all, a lot happens in this book.  So much that if can be quite difficult and dense to follow.  It is pretty important to key on early that it jumps in between times and has a non-linear timeline.  If you don't understand that early on, it is very easy to get lost or confused.  Secondly, the language is this book is so rich but also dense.  I like that the author decided to use a dialect in the writing, but it can be difficult to get through.  At times, I ended up having to read a word or sentence out-loud in order to understand what it was saying.  This really adds an entire dimension to this story and grounds it in something that feels a bit more realistic. Thirdly, this story can be very dark and triggering at times.  That should be a given since it discusses slavery and slave life, but alongside the horrible ways Africans were treated once they were brought to the United States, there are several other triggering aspects in this story such as rape, torture, and the death of babies and children.  I appreciated that the author doesn't just glance over these things, but she seeks to draw them out and explain them in a very relevant historical context.  It was really neat for me because, as I was reading this book I was also teaching The Civil War in my history courses.  Unlike a lot of other professors, I like to discuss everything, including the ugly and sad.  This book fascinated me, even though it did detail horrible parts of history, because it didn't cover those things up or forget them.The stories of Rue, Varina, and Miss May Belle really stick out to me because even thought this is a historical piece, their stories and lives still could be found today.  It is not as if stories such as these do not happen anymore; rather it is sadly still common.  Alongside the sad, the overarching story of persevering and thriving in spite of negativity is so uplifting.  This women suffer a lot but still realize and understand the importance of unity, discussion, trust, and community.  There is a very strong undercurrent of female empowerment and connection that illuminates this book.  Besides being a fantastic story with a moving plot, the power of women and the importance of women's lives really made the book a 5-star read for me.Overall, I am so grateful to have been able to read this book and share my views.  Books like this, that recount the taboo and disgusting stories of our history should be more readily available for the masses.  While it does recount a small part of an ugly history, it also brings to light the power of community and the strength that women have in their own rights.  I enjoyed those empowered messages and the feeling of hope in the end, after so much destruction and travesty.
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  • 2TReads
    January 1, 1970
    This book tells the story of Rue, a Conjure woman, living in a small community of former slaves. The story flashes from the present to the past and we see Rue's life growing up on a plantation and her relationship with her mother, May Belle, who teaches her everything she knows about traditional African inspired healing. Atakora does a very good job of highlighting the nuances of plantation life, especially when it came to the relationships of slaves, their owners (and extended family). She also This book tells the story of Rue, a Conjure woman, living in a small community of former slaves. The story flashes from the present to the past and we see Rue's life growing up on a plantation and her relationship with her mother, May Belle, who teaches her everything she knows about traditional African inspired healing. Atakora does a very good job of highlighting the nuances of plantation life, especially when it came to the relationships of slaves, their owners (and extended family). She also expertly explores the clash that occurs when Christian fervour, in the form of a travelling pastor, sows the seeds of doubt in other forms of healing apart from prayer. And how that doubt can lead to alienation of something/someone that was previously counted on in a small community.However, I have to admit that I found Rue as a character to be bland. I was more intrigued by her mother's story and would have loved to read even more about her, as she seemed to be a dynamic woman.
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  • Sari
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I love any historical fiction, especially centered around The Civil War and WWII. Even though these were such sad and depressing times in history, I love reading stories in that time period because it reminds me of my grandparents and great grandparents. Afia Atakora is one of those writers that will stand the test of time. This is definitely going to be one of those books in 50-100 years that we are I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I love any historical fiction, especially centered around The Civil War and WWII. Even though these were such sad and depressing times in history, I love reading stories in that time period because it reminds me of my grandparents and great grandparents. Afia Atakora is one of those writers that will stand the test of time. This is definitely going to be one of those books in 50-100 years that we are still talking about. It is a true classic in the making. Atakora’s writing is so vivid and vibrant. It makes you feel immersed in the story. I love how she wrote from dual perspectives. The chapters would almost tease you.. I would be so ready to find out what happened next, then the story would shift to another perspective. It was maddingly perfect. I truly feel that Atakora captured the life on a Southern plantation. She wasn’t scared to write about some of the horrors and brutalities but in a way that didn’t use those as the main focus of the store. The people who experienced the brutality were not reduced to being “victims” but the situations and brutalities they faced were not just swept under the rug. You watch them turn these horrific tragedies into strengths and grow from them.All and all this was an amazing novel. I want to personally thank Afia Atakora, Random House Publishing, and NetGalley for allowing me to review this title. I enjoyed every minute!
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  • T.B. Caine
    January 1, 1970
    This book is definitely in the running for my favorite book of the year, hell I think it IS my favorite book of the year. Definite 5/5 from me. Thank you to Netgalley for hooking me up with an ARC of this great novel, that I don't know I would have heard of otherwise. 'Conjure Women' follows Rue throughout her childhood and adulthood, seeing her mother being a healer and her own later attempts at trying to be the new healer. Of course nothing is easy and plot happens. There are a few chapters This book is definitely in the running for my favorite book of the year, hell I think it IS my favorite book of the year. Definite 5/5 from me. Thank you to Netgalley for hooking me up with an ARC of this great novel, that I don't know I would have heard of otherwise. 'Conjure Women' follows Rue throughout her childhood and adulthood, seeing her mother being a healer and her own later attempts at trying to be the new healer. Of course nothing is easy and plot happens. There are a few chapters that are told from her mother's perspective, but they are few in number. The chapters do alternate with one in the past and one in the 'present' of Post-Civil War. The past sections do slowly catch up to the 'present' and the closer it gets the more you're able to see just how things got this way. Rue feels like she is losing the ability to work miracles and there is outside pressure that might make everyone lose their new homes once again. This is more literary than fantasy, and while magic does exist in this book I think it definitely swings more towards the folk magic direction than what most people think of when they think of magic. It didn't affect my rating, but I feel like I should clarify that for people looking at reviews. Our MC, Rue, is delightfully complex and she feels like a real person put into page form. Her relationships both in her childhood and adulthood feel the same. They all have ups and downs, and both feel like they could be part of a real relationship. The timeline of events also makes sense and marches at such a pace that I never found myself confused about the way things happened, besides when it was intentional for you to be a bit lost. (Mostly when it comes to reveals that happen in the second half) The book is plotted so well that the twists just keep getting revealed and you're slowly piecing together the story or what happened, and what is going to happen after. The only dull moment might be towards the beginning, but I wouldn't even count that as slow. There is enough intrigue built up right away that you want to find out more, and more secrets just keep coming and before I knew it I was totally sucked in. This was an incredible read and I just finished it today and I already want to read it all over again.
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  • Rhiannon Gallacher
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to 4th Estate and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. I have rated this book 3.5 stars.I was so excited to get my hands on this book! From the blurb it looked right up my street, ticking numerous boxes. I mean, a female-led multigenerational story spanning multiple eras all wrapped up in a magnificently researched historical novel? Count me in! I am so happy to have had the privilege of reading Afia Atakoras debut novel. It is Thank you to 4th Estate and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. I have rated this book 3.5 stars.I was so excited to get my hands on this book! From the blurb it looked right up my street, ticking numerous boxes. I mean, a female-led multigenerational story spanning multiple eras all wrapped up in a ‘magnificently researched’ historical novel? Count me in! I am so happy to have had the privilege of reading Afia Atakora’s debut novel. It is beautifully written with wonderfully complex female characters. Rue, our protagonist, was born into slavery and just barely an adult when ‘freedom’ came following the Civil War. She has shadowed her mother, Miss May Belle, a ‘healer’ who dabbles in curses and hoodoo, all her life and, after her mother’s death, takes up her mantle in her community. She is both resentful of her predetermined destiny and takes pride in her work. Rue is a sympathetic and likeable morally grey character. She’d definitely an unreliable narrator and a pleasure to read. The narrative flits between the pre and post war eras, so, as well as chapters from Rue’s perspective about her childhood, we are also treated to some chapters written in Miss May Belle’s voice, which I really enjoyed. The other woman’s story this novel tells is Varina’s. She is the daughter of Rue and Miss May Belle’s enslaver, Marse Charles, and is another interesting character. This is novel is, I think, an exploration of power and autonomy. Varina, of course, has power over Rue and Miss May Belle due to the fact that she is their white mistress. Yet, she is also vulnerable and powerless, a member of the second sex, and Afia excellently explores this dualism. Unfortunately, while I found this to be an engaging novel it was, strangely, simultaneously anti-climactic. I think that perhaps this was an issue with the lead plot or maybe a casualty of the non-linear narrative – something I usually really enjoy but feel was perhaps was not so well executed in this case. Maybe I expected more magical realism than was delivered. I’m not sure. It’s hard to put my finger on why I came away from this novel underwhelmed but it was certainly a great debut and I would happily read a subsequent novel from Afia!
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  • Margarita (margaritathedrink)
    January 1, 1970
    This was one book I was very excited to receive through NetGalley and Random HouseConjure Women showed elements of slavery and the plantation along with magic. This story happens after the civil war and you get to know more about Rue throughout the story. there are flashbacks from when Rue was little growing up on the plantation with her mother who was a midwife and healer. Her mother taught her everything she knew about spiritual healing. I really enjoyed Rue's moms storyline a lot. Even with This was one book I was very excited to receive through NetGalley and Random HouseConjure Women showed elements of slavery and the plantation along with magic. This story happens after the civil war and you get to know more about Rue throughout the story. there are flashbacks from when Rue was little growing up on the plantation with her mother who was a midwife and healer. Her mother taught her everything she knew about spiritual healing. I really enjoyed Rue's moms storyline a lot. Even with magic in the story it wasnt fantasy more of a folktale which i really enoyed. and though the beginning was a little slow the story starts to pick up and you don't ever feel confused about anything. I dont want to give much away but i highly recommend this read and i want to thank random house for granting my wish to read this amazing story.
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Wow-this debut novel blew me away with it's originality and brilliance. It tells the tale of life on a plantation, slavery, the Civil War, healing, magic, relationships, betrayal, and everything in between. It reads like a folktale and focuses on 3 women: a white woman who is the slave's owner and 2 slaves, a mother and her daughter who are the conjure women or healers who practice hoodoo. The timeline is not linear which required I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Wow-this debut novel blew me away with it's originality and brilliance. It tells the tale of life on a plantation, slavery, the Civil War, healing, magic, relationships, betrayal, and everything in between. It reads like a folktale and focuses on 3 women: a white woman who is the slave's owner and 2 slaves, a mother and her daughter who are the conjure women or healers who practice hoodoo. The timeline is not linear which required some getting used to and at times, the plot was a bit too slow but it's an immensely powerful and well written debut. 4.5
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  • Allison (SPELLBOUND READER)
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐ of five stars*Thank you @netgally and Random House for giving me an ARC for an honest review.*Publication date: April 7th*This book was a dream! The writing style is stunning. The characters were well developed and the plot was intriguing to the point that I couldnt put it down if I tired. I thought this book was so well written - then finding out that this is a debut novel!! I am very impressed!*Synopsis: We are following the lives of women that live on a plantation; a healer and slave, ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ of five stars*Thank you @netgally and Random House for giving me an ARC for an honest review.*Publication date: April 7th*This book was a dream! The writing style is stunning. The characters were well developed and the plot was intriguing to the point that I couldn’t put it down if I tired. I thought this book was so well written - then finding out that this is a debut novel!! I am very impressed!*Synopsis: We are following the lives of women that live on a plantation; a healer and slave, her daughter and the daughter of the plantation owner. Baring witness to the struggles they face pre and post Civil War. The brutality that the salves faced everyday and the frightening unknown that their new found freedom gave them.*Although Conjure Women isn’t my usual genre, I will be reading anything Afia Atakora writes! This was just so good!*
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  • Chandra
    January 1, 1970
    This book is haunting, sad, and impactful. It was a graphic and difficult read, but also a very thought provoking and powerful story.
  • O Prism
    January 1, 1970
    Outstanding and beguiling debut novel! Atakora has pulled out all the stops in the engaging tale of life on a plantation, slavery, the Civil War, healing, magic, relationships, betrayal, and everything in between. I took my time reading this - rather than plow through it, I read a few chapters at at time - for this is a book to be savored, a unique delicacy that doesnt come around too often. The plot centers around a mother and daughter, conjurers both, creating potions to birth, curse, wound, Outstanding and beguiling debut novel! Atakora has pulled out all the stops in the engaging tale of life on a plantation, slavery, the Civil War, healing, magic, relationships, betrayal, and everything in between. I took my time reading this - rather than plow through it, I read a few chapters at at time - for this is a book to be savored, a unique delicacy that doesn’t come around too often. The plot centers around a mother and daughter, conjurers both, creating potions to birth, curse, wound, heal people and the community of a variety of maladies, real and/or imagined. The characters were well developed, the plot held my attention, and great narration (occasionally it was hard to know who was narrating at first). While some material may be disturbing, the author takes no prisoners in researching and describing a harsh life during the Civil War and the lives that revolved around it, for better or worse. I’ve read many books on the history of both the Civil War and slavery, but this book is unlike any I’ve read. Kudos to Atakora, and I look forward to reading more from this fabulous author. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Kira
    January 1, 1970
    Afia Atakora's Conjure Women draws the reader into the life of a mother and her daughter in the Civil War South as they're released from slavery and begin grappling with the future, and it does so in intimate and unexpected ways. The whole novel reckons with divides - the slaves who remember being forcibly stolen from their homes, now living with children born into a new freedom; between the black slaves and the white slavers; between Rue and the plantation owner's daughter Varina; between the Afia Atakora's Conjure Women draws the reader into the life of a mother and her daughter in the Civil War South as they're released from slavery and begin grappling with the future, and it does so in intimate and unexpected ways. The whole novel reckons with divides - the slaves who remember being forcibly stolen from their homes, now living with children born into a new freedom; between the black slaves and the white slavers; between Rue and the plantation owner's daughter Varina; between the old voodoo magic of Rue and her mama Ma Doe against the conventional religion introduced by the travelling Bruh Abel. Atakora creates a world that feels painfully and heartrendingly grounded to reality, yet her striking prose weaves the illusion of fantasy and hope throughout her pages - a reflection of the illusion Rue and Ma Doe create for the men, women, and children on the plantation they're irrevocably bound to. Conjure Women is a debut that I loved and is certain to place Atakora's name on the map.
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  • Mags
    January 1, 1970
    As vivid as a folktale and utterly riveting, Conjure Women is probably one of my books of the year.The tale of Rue (and her mother), healers/midwives and slaves. The narrative jumps between different time periods to further the story. Rue is an incredibly well-done character - even her more morally muddy decisions you can empathise with. All the supporting characters are vivid and well written, I don't want to give too much away - there's so much in here that I want people to come at fresh, with As vivid as a folktale and utterly riveting, Conjure Women is probably one of my books of the year.The tale of Rue (and her mother), healers/midwives and slaves. The narrative jumps between different time periods to further the story. Rue is an incredibly well-done character - even her more morally muddy decisions you can empathise with. All the supporting characters are vivid and well written, I don't want to give too much away - there's so much in here that I want people to come at fresh, with no spoilers.Absolutely wonderful story and one I'd recommend.Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Biblio Bushra
    January 1, 1970
    Link to review: http://www.bibliobushra.com/conjure-w...Since reading Little Women, Conjure Women is the only other book Ive read set around the American Civil War. It will come as a surprise that this is Afia Atakoras debut novel given her ability to write so evocatively about historical fiction. The story revolves around Rue, daughter of Miss May Belle who is a reputable conjure woman and midwife. Both mother and daughter are enslaved on a plantation in the American South where they suffer Link to review: http://www.bibliobushra.com/conjure-w...Since reading Little Women, Conjure Women is the only other book I’ve read set around the American Civil War. It will come as a surprise that this is Afia Atakora’s debut novel given her ability to write so evocatively about historical fiction. The story revolves around Rue, daughter of Miss May Belle who is a reputable ‘conjure woman’ and midwife. Both mother and daughter are enslaved on a plantation in the American South where they suffer terribly at the hands of their owner. Alternating between enslavement and emancipation with Rue being the central character, we learn about her relationship with the plantation owner’s daughter, Varina, her experiences growing from a young girl to a woman and the mysterious circumstances around a baby called Bean who continues to inexplicably draw Rue in.Although I finished the book back in January, I needed some time to digest it; the story alternates between different timelines offering a new episode from Rue’s life. The reader is transported back and forth and only once you get to the end do you realise that each narrative in the timeline is a puzzle piece of a bigger picture that cleverly comes together in a climax that speeds towards a bittersweet end. The very last chapter, however, filled me with heartwarming relief. For this very reason, the pace of the story feels slow but definitely not mundane; there’s enough mystery and almost a mythical feel in each chapter to keep you hanging and curious to know what we’ll next learn about Rue’s life.Afia Atakora’s expressive depiction of slavery to freedom in the era of the American Civil War is heartbreaking and incredibly raw. An immense amount of research has gone into writing earnestly about this painful period in history and yet, she is able to weave in a beautiful story of a mother-daughter relationship, of womanhood, of life on a plantation as a slave, of the harrowing awakening that women have always been up for sale by even those who claim to love and protect them regardless of their proximity to wealth and status, of the bitter realisation that came with abolition that freedom did not equate to equality and respect, and of its subsequent reality that the situation has only marginally improved yet still exists in its modern form today.Undoubtedly, Conjure Women is a story of the strength, but also the vulnerabilities of women – this is especially evident in Miss May Belle’s struggle to come to terms with the fate of Rue’s father. It’s a book about the complex relationships that exist between women and the communities in which they reside and the resilience it takes to go against the tide. Ultimately, we learn that regardless of the situation, the mother-daughter relationship is enduring and Afia Atakora’s exemplary and vibrant storytelling teaches us that regardless of time, distance and circumstances, the bonds that tie us are inescapably everlasting.
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'More profit to be made in curses than in her work mixing healing tinctures. More praise to be found in revenge than in birthing babies.'Slaverytime 1854 we meet Miss May Belle, a slave woman well known for crafting curses, because as she tells it, Hoodoo is black folks currency. What other power is to be found than in such things? Its another form of hope when drowning in desperation. In a time when other slavefolk were forced to work in the via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'More profit to be made in curses than in her work mixing healing tinctures. More praise to be found in revenge than in birthing babies.'Slaverytime 1854 we meet Miss May Belle, a slave woman well known for crafting curses, because as she tells it, “Hoodoo is black folks currency.” What other power is to be found than in such things? It’s another form of hope when drowning in desperation. In a time when other slavefolk were forced to work in the fields, or on carpentering and cooking Miss May Belle has her hoodooing and healing (for various afflictions) as well as midwifery skills. She is the one the slavefolk turn to, and sometimes the white man as well; when what ails him is a shameful thing. Her own daughter Rue comes of age at her side, learning more than healing wounds, and birthing babies. She learns first hand about true love and passion watching her parents during her father’s brief visits and the abysmal pain and suffering of its loss. She also learns about the cost of freedom and ownership. Then she witnesses the consequences conjures take on a person’s body and soul. Through her mother’s gifts and skills she is able to weave in and out of the lives of their people as well as the home of their master and his family, prosperous landowner Marse Charles.As a playmate to his spoiled daughter Varina, Rue has more freedom than afforded girls like her and is privy to a different life. Yet Rue learns her place well, always watching from afar the life that she knows divides them. When she forgets her place her mother is sure to do the reminding. Miss May Belle may be freer than most, but she still must abide by the unspoken rules of the white-man. The master’s child Varina loves to be wild and who better to be an “accomplice to witness her rebellion” than Rue. It always turns into punishments for her alone, for her mamma Miss May Belle has eyes and ears everywhere, and an uncanny way of knowing everything her girl gets up to. In order to keep her safe and under the care of Marse Charles she must teach her everything she knows, whether Rue wants to learn or not and that includes behaving properly, and colored little girls can’t run around fancy and free like Varina.The story goes back and forth between slavery and freedomtime, Rue’s childhood and her turn at caring for the people her own mother gives up on after a horrific tragedy. Superstitions seem to guide the people, especially when a baby is born more like a pitiful creature, something that everyone feels is more like a curse than a bundle of joy. She has birthed every child in town since the end of slaverytime, more intimately involved in all their lives than anyone. But she knows firsthand how fast praise can turn to hatred, more so when a religious man comes to town. Everyone needs someone to blame their bad luck on, it’s so much easier than looking within. When the old ways no longer save you, maybe God can, but the bible doesn’t take with Hoodoo. Love itself can be as potent as a curse, as too can harboring secrets about the people in the town and Marse Charles’ family. Someone is always scheming, there is little comfort to be had. Gossip can cost anyone their standing, especially Rue. Running away can be dangerous but so can ‘digging in’, making a stand and fighting for your small place in the world. Rue will not run, even if Bruh Abel is set on her ruin. Even if the bible marks her as evil, fallen, in need of redemption. Maybe Bruh Abel isn’t so pure either?Fear runs rampant among the people, curses aren’t enough, and every affliction can’t be cured. The woods are not always silent nor still, they too are haunted by memories, and possibly something else. Secrets seems to go there. So many decisions Rue is forced to make to protect others, so many wrong moves and yet nothing for herself. Will it ever change? Is she forever trapped in this life rooted in whispers, secrets, gossip, grief, curses, and conjures? What will the price of freedom be for Rue? Life is a heavy weight and what comfort can be found in her mother’s words? “Fix what you’ve done. Or live with it quiet.”There are some things that one cannot live with and everything you have done will rise up. It’s an interesting historical fiction with a taste of magical realism, people help each other but also harm one another. Rue carries many burdens and tries hard to make things right. It’s written from the perspective of slavery, rather than ownership and it lends a far more authentic experience. This is a writer to watch! For those who are into cover love, how beautiful is the book cover? As I read it, I kept thinking someone will make this into a movie. Who knows? It’s a fantastic debut!Publication Date: April 7, 2020Random House Publishing
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    *This book was received as part of the Amazon Vine Program.Once I got into this book I had a hard time putting it down. I read the majority of it in an evening and found it engrossing and surprising at some of the twists and turns.Conjure Women follows the story of two women. The first, Rue, is a healer/midwife/conjurer who is living life as best as possible after the end of Civil War and the finding of a new way of a life. The other woman is her mother, May Belle, and takes place before the *This book was received as part of the Amazon Vine Program.Once I got into this book I had a hard time putting it down. I read the majority of it in an evening and found it engrossing and surprising at some of the twists and turns.Conjure Women follows the story of two women. The first, Rue, is a healer/midwife/conjurer who is living life as best as possible after the end of Civil War and the finding of a new way of a life. The other woman is her mother, May Belle, and takes place before the Civil War and Emancipation. May Belle too is a healer and where Rue learned her trade from. Upheavals in their community present trouble for both women and they have to rely on their beliefs and skills to keep pushing life forward and finding their freedom.Rue is the primary protagonist of this book. While May Belle has her parts, she is more the backdrop to Rue's story and everything that happens to her. Her perspective gives crucial detail to why Rue does the things she does or believes the way she believes. Rue herself is strong and opinionated, but still at odds with her community at times because of her feelings. She has many secrets. In general the relationship between all of these characters were well done. And these secrets are what make the book. It kind of hearkens back to the Chaos Theory a bit. A small thing you do, a lie you tell, can have unforeseen consequences in the future. This concept of the way we hide things or change truths to protect ourselves and the actions that arise from it was a neat idea to incorporate into the book. It went past the actual "conjure" part or spiritual aspects that were present. So why then did I rate it four stars instead of five? Well, there were some components that I found hard to believe. Certain manipulations that either needed more detail to make me understand and fully immerse myself in the situation or that were a bit of a convenient way for the plot to follow.Overall, this is a very well written book that will keep you engaged. It offers the right amount of character development, storyline, and interesting topic to keep you wanting to know how it ends.Review by M. Reynard 2020
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  • Dana
    January 1, 1970
    The story of the Conjure Women weaves its way through several timelines before, during and after the Civil War following a family of women on a plantation. One woman is an honored healer using the old ways, the second her daughter caught between learning the old ways and reconciling the pressures of Christianity around her and the third, the daughter of the plantation owner.The characters are rich and deep. They struggle with life during the days of slavery and then trying to figure out what The story of the Conjure Women weaves its way through several timelines before, during and after the Civil War following a family of women on a plantation. One woman is an honored healer using the old ways, the second her daughter caught between learning the old ways and reconciling the pressures of Christianity around her and the third, the daughter of the plantation owner.The characters are rich and deep. They struggle with life during the days of slavery and then trying to figure out what "freedom" means to each of them. After the birth of a child with some strange ways and a plague that seems to be afflicting all of the other newborn children, the black plantation folks are torn between the world they knew and the one proposed by a slick talking preacher who has recently settled within their midst. The story explores the importance of tradition in an evolving world where human nature balancing fear and acceptance can upend all that is comfortable and leave a wake of uncertainty for even those who are confident in their beliefs. There are all of the intense and violent moments you'd expect in a Civil War slave account mixed with fantastical natural elements that make the story a beautiful and powerful read.I received an ARC of this novel from Random House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Abby Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    I devoured Conjure Women by Afia Atakora. I don't know what it is about this one that I enjoyed so much, but I found Rue's character to be so interesting, easy to love, and easy to read about. Mama Doe was also such a good character- I wish she'd been featured in the book more. Sarah and Brother Allen were also big hits for me, as was little Bean. I could've done without Varina, but he role in the story was so integral and the messaging Atakora conveyed through Varina was gold. I especially I devoured Conjure Women by Afia Atakora. I don't know what it is about this one that I enjoyed so much, but I found Rue's character to be so interesting, easy to love, and easy to read about. Mama Doe was also such a good character- I wish she'd been featured in the book more. Sarah and Brother Allen were also big hits for me, as was little Bean. I could've done without Varina, but he role in the story was so integral and the messaging Atakora conveyed through Varina was gold. I especially enjoyed the inter-generational structure of the book, and how Rue's story was interlaced with May Belle's sacrifices and dedication to keep Rue with her (and Varina). I think the best part of Conjure Women for me was the ending- it was just unclear enough to allow for alternative interpretations but still clear enough to give readers an idea of how it was intended to be read. If you've read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the ending!
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  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    28/2/20Stunning cover, the story sounds so exciting!! I managed to get my hands on it during my book scavenging hunt last week!! Very happy right now!! :DYou can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
  • Claire
    January 1, 1970
    This is my first Netgalley request and if they all grab me like this I may have to file a complaint. Really though, the mystery was there in the first few chapters and had me hooked straight away. 400+ pages flew by.It is incredibly powerful with immersive world building. I could really feel the connections between the characters, particularly Rue and Bean.
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  • Stacey Bene
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway and Im so glad. This isnt something I would have picked up off the the shelf, but it was a great story. I love Civil War era stories and this one didnt disappoint. I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway and I’m so glad. This isn’t something I would have picked up off the the shelf, but it was a great story. I love Civil War era stories and this one didn’t disappoint.
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  • Dionisia
    January 1, 1970
    "Magic and faith were fickle. Life and living were fickle. And didn't Rue know that as well as anyone?" -Conjure Women, pg. 7I have questions. So many questions. And, complicated feelings. I've been marinating in my feels since I finished reading this a few days ago. Admittedly, I haven't properly collected my thoughts enough to type out a coherent review. A book in five parts. The story swings back and forth in time. Freedomtime. Slaverytime. Wartime. The Ravaging. Exodus. Each jump from "Magic and faith were fickle. Life and living were fickle. And didn't Rue know that as well as anyone?" -Conjure Women, pg. 7I have questions. So many questions. And, complicated feelings. I've been marinating in my feels since I finished reading this a few days ago. Admittedly, I haven't properly collected my thoughts enough to type out a coherent review. A book in five parts. The story swings back and forth in time. Freedomtime. Slaverytime. Wartime. The Ravaging. Exodus. Each jump from chapter to chapter felt like a tug towards something dark and foreboding. It made for very tense reading as I waited for the pendulum to swing down and slice me in the gut. I wish I had someone to bounce my thoughts off of. This story would make a great book club selection. Note: This ARC came to me via a Goodreads giveaway win.
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