I'm excited to have the Conjure Blog Tour stopping by today with my review and a giveaway...
SERIES: The Hoodoo Apprentice #1
AUTHOR: Lea Nolan
PUB DATE: 10/23/12
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.
THREE WORDS: Fun, Mysterious Read
MY REVIEW: Lea Nolan's Conjure (The Hoodoo Apprentice #1) is a fun story full of mystery, intriguing supernatural elements, and cute romance.
Fourteen year old twins Emma and Jack Guthrie are spending their summer like they always do, with their father on the coast of SC, hanging out with their neighbor and best friend (and Emma's secret crush), Cooper Beaumont. But a mysterious 18th century message found inside a bottle turns their boring summer into one of life or death. Opening the treasure they find unleashes a Gullah flesh-eating curse, called The Creep, that attacks Jack. On the urgings of a mysterious beautiful stranger, the trio consult a Gullah Grannie, Miss Delia, to undo the curse and save Jack. Miss Delia takes Emma on as a hoodoo apprentice and teaches her all she knows.
Conjure took me on an exciting and fun journey into the world of hoodoo. Lea Nolan has crafted a unique story full of magical elements, sweet romance, and a likable heroine. Even though this book is 300+ pages, it was a quick read, and more importantly an enjoyable read.
The story took a few chapters to really pick up, but once it did the story moved at a great flow and I enjoyed the fast-pacing. The overall storyline is fairly predictable (I figured out the big reveal long before the climactic ending), but this didn't keep me from enjoying the journey. And Nolan does build-up the suspense and mystery well; there were plenty of twists and revelations that I never saw coming. The magical and supernatural world Nolan creates is really fresh and engrossing. I found the hoodoo elements quite captivating and very well thought out. Nolan has clearly done her research and adds a great authenticity to the story. I think readers will be riveted by Miss Delia's lessons in spells, herbs, gris-gris bags and the grotesquely fascinating curse.
For the most part, with the characters' ages and the less intense atmosphere, this story felt more MG than YA. Yes, there are darker supernatural and magical elements and life or death situations, but it just has a younger vibe to it. The teen characters who are 14 and 15 are a bit immature, but not unlikable. Emma is a realistic and smart heroine who really grew on me throughout the book. Cooper is a sweet guy, but his character development is a bit lacking; I hope we get to know him better in the next book. Jack was a bit harder to like, but I think that's because the curse made him act like a jerk. Miss Delia really shines as a great mentor character! She's funny, sassy, and irresistibly lovable.
Emma and Cooper's flirtation is definitely more cutesy and sweet than steamy. Emma's obsessive and repetitive musing about how hot/perfect/godlike Cooper can be a little annoying, but it definitely reflects her age.
The book concludes by wrapping up the storyline nicely, but setting the scene for the next installment and I will definitely be reading the sequel.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Conjure, with its fresh and fascinating hoodoo storyline, is a fun and entertaining book that will charm readers. A great first installment in what's sure to be an awesome series.
Lea Nolan couldn’t read until the third grade. After a lot of hard work she finally got the hang of it and quickly learned the best way to get out of doing chores was to tell her parents she was reading. Soon she was hooked, devouring books by Roald Dahl, E.B. White, Judy Blume, C.S. Lewis, and anything with a shiny Newberry Award sticker on the cover. Books provided a portal to enchanted lands where anything was possible and characters relied on their wits to wiggle out of sticky situations. Today, even though she’s all grown up, Lea writes the kinds of 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 spent fifteen years as a health policy analyst and researcher. She lives in Maryland with her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, who’ve figured out how to get out of doing their chores.
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