BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora [in Booklist]

The eponymous conjure women here are two midwife/healers: enslaved mother May Belle and her eventually free daughter Rue. Their story gets revealed in three time-jumping segments – slaverytime, wartime, freedomtime – that readers will need to realign for full disclosure of brutal secrets, hidden pasts, uncertain futures. In slaverytime, Marse Charles ran his plantation and entrusted child-rearing to Ma Doe while he loved (raped) May Belle. Wartime causes his death; freedomtime enables the formerly enslaved to stay on the plantation.

May Belle is gone, but Rue has stepped into her place, delivering babies and mixing herbs. The arrival of a strange pale child with striking dark eyes sets tongues wagging, inspiring accusations thrown at Rue for wicked conjuring. Children die en masse of an unknown illness, as an itinerant preacher appears to seemingly usurp Rue’s power.

Award-winning Adenrele Ojo displays her veteran expertise, narrating effortlessly through a vast cast – from curious playmates, women desperate with pain, frightened young children, entitled white men, lost souls, mourning lovers, and so many more. With dexterous control, Ojo keeps listeners engaged and entertained over 14 hours of Atakora’s compelling debut.

Review: “Media,” Booklist, May 15, 2020

Readers: Adult

Published: 2020


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