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Book Review: Conjure by Lea Nolan

Be careful what you search for…

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry–hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends–are lost forever. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

What is not to love about this synopsis: pirate bounty! messages in bottles! flesh-eating Creeps! and walking skeletons! You know right away you are entering into a Southern Gothic tale steeped in the traditions of hoodoo magic.  Conjure is a very unique read as this type of magic – Hoodoo Magic – doesn’t often appear in ya lit and it definite gives it a distinct advantage; you are not in for a typical ya book.  And it should go without saying that there are some unique gothic overtones to Conjure with a little Southern drawl to give it that special kick.  The setting just captures the reader and keeps you invested, a wonderful example of creating atmosphere.
Hoodoo: : a body of practices of sympathetic magic traditional especially among blacks in the southern United States (Definition from Merriam Webster online)
Like pretty much all yas these days, there is a nice little romance involved.  I love that here we have childhood friends with secret crushes and the opportunity for it to turn into something more.  Here again Nolan meets readers expectations but with a twist and step around some of the more normal ya paranormal tropes.
I do have to say that this is a great book to pair with The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.  There is just something special about these intimate looks at magic.  And I mentioned there were pirates, right? Come on, pirates! You can’t beat that.
“Richly filled with exquisite imagery, a compelling story, and a strong, smart heroine. Conjure will keep you up way past your bedtime.” –Trinity Faegen, author of The Mephisto Covenant series

This is an unexpected read: exciting, dangerous, adventurous – everything we want from a good book. Yet Nolan puts that creative twist on all the elements, making Conjure something special.  Conjure is recommended, 4 out of 5 stars. Also, it looks like a great 2013 trend is going to be a look at more traditional forms of magic such as Hoodoo and “Earth” magic (again, see Raven Boys), as opposed to the more fantasy magic of things like Harry Potter.

Other books of interest:
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
Anansi Boys and more by Neil Gaiman
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Meet Lea Nolan:
Lea Nolan couldn’t read until the third grade. After a lot of hard work she finally got the hang of it and devoured any book she could find with a shiny Newberry Award sticker on the cover. Today she writes the stories she sought as a teen—smart paranormals with bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance and a sprinkle of history. She holds degrees in history and women’s studies concentrating in public policy and lives with her heroically supportive husband and three brilliant children in Maryland.

Social Media links:
Website: http://www.leanolan.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lea_Nolan
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheHoodooApprentice
Group blog: http://honestlyya.blogspot.com/

Title: Conjure (The Hoodoo Apprentice, #1)
Author: Lea Nolan
Genre: Young Adult
Length: 400 pages
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Print ISBN: 978-1620610978

CONJURE on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13425130-conjure


On Entangled: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/category/young-adult/

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/conjure-lea-nolan/1109672878?ean=9781620610978
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1620610973/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_0Gqnqb1CVCX0Q%20
Powells: http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9781620610978-0
Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Conjure-Lea-Nolan/9781620610978
Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781620610978
Books-a-million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Conjure/Lea-Nolan/9781620610978?id=550228716449


  1. hhmmm…
    nice cover. maybe i should give this a try

  2. I have to agree with everything in this post. Thanks for the useful information.
    The best sitebook reviewer us.

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