Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Genre: Magical Realism / Culture / Spirituality
Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words
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Malcolm R. Campbell lives in north Georgia and has worked as a corporate communications director, technical writer, and college journalism instructor. He now works as a grant writer for museums and other nonprofit organizations and writes stories.
For more, visit Campbell’s website.
“Lena, a shamanistic cat, and her conjure woman Eulalie live in a small town near the Apalachicola River in Florida’s lightly populated Liberty County, where longleaf pines own the world. In Eulalie’s time, women of color look after white children in the homes of white families and are respected, even loved, but distrusted and kept separated as a group…
When some white boys rape and murder a black girl named Mattie near the sawmill, the police have no suspects and don’t intend to find any. Eulalie, who sees conjure as a way of helping the good Lord work His will, intends to set things right by ‘laying tricks.’
But Eulalie has secrets of her own, and it’s hard not to look back on her own life and ponder how the decisions she made while drinking and singing at the local juke were, perhaps, the beginning of Mattie’s ending.”
The Conjure Woman’s Cat is a novella set in the Florida Panhandle in the 1950s-era about Hoodoo, the KKK, and the blues. The story is told through Lena, Eulalie’s cat and her familiar. Lena is able to spirit walk and communicate with Eulalie. I had no trouble buying into this scenario, this is fiction and I was ready to believe. I found the characters well defined, believable, and they fit into the era the book was written to be in. Eulalie claims to be older than dirt, is full of gumption and spitfire. She has had a hard life and won’t take guff from anyone and she means to set things right. I loved this quote from Lena towards the end of the book.
My Conjure Woman believes no man, woman, or cat should question the consequences of calling upon folk magic, archangels, or the good Lord to rearrange the puzzle pieces that make up the world.
I have heard there is truth in that statement. One can ask the spirits, or pray, but one cannot direct the consequences. So, you better mean what you say and say what you mean.
The plot is multi-layered and confronts racism head-on. If you are offended by certain terms, this may not be the book for you, however it fits the era and is realistic of the times. This story concerns two families in particular. Both being torn apart, one eventually comes to terms with the past so the healing can begin. It’s a realistic and moving story that will break your heart but then try to make you whole again. This book gives you a look at how white justice was handled in the south. It is sad to believe that certain aspects of this still hold true today. No one can undo the past and it could take years to get past the hurt even if the pain is a sacred pain.
I dearly loved Eulalie and Willie, I could easily have been friends with them both. The more I read the name Eulalie the more I adored it. It has a beautiful rhythm and made me smile every time I read it. Eulalie was a wise woman and deserved the respect she was given. Kudos to Malcolm R. Campbell for a story well told.
Certain racist terms are used within this story, however they fit with the time and the story would seem unrealistic without them. If you are offended by such, perhaps this is not the book for you.
I was given an ARC so I really can’t comment on the finished book, but I ran across no significant proofing or formatting issues in the copy I received.
Rating: ***** Five stars
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