Conjure Women was my first buddy read with my amazing bookish girl gang on Bookstagram and I’m so glad that we selected this as our first book because there was a lot to digest and discuss afterwards, hence the reason I delayed writing this review as long as I did.
Conjure Women is set in the South and spans over the course of multiple generations before and after the Civil War. Moving back and forth in time among the characters, this story focuses on three women- a healing woman named May Belle, her daughter Rue, and their master’s daughter, Varina. The secrets and deep-rooted bonds that these three women share come to a head when the Civil War begins and upon the birth of a child that is believed to be cursed. The birth of this child, Bean, brings forth a lot of fear and superstition among the townspeople that they worry will threaten their newfound freedom.
I’m gonna be totally honest with you guys. I really wanted to love this book but I struggled with it and it just didn’t do much for me. I don’t know if it’s because it was hard to focus due to everything going on right now, or if it was the writing style and story plot itself that just didn’t pique my interest like I expected it to, or if it just simply is not the book for me. I found myself re-reading a lot of parts and felt like the plot fell flat, struggling to identify where the story was going and was left with a lot of questions at the end. The first 150 pages were hard to get through and while things slowly started to pick up a little after that, I felt like a lot of the surprise twists were randomly snuck into the story and not as strong as they could’ve been due to how slow the story was and not being totally sure what was happening and why. It’s very possible that because I was struggling to focus, I could have missed out on some key pieces of information that would have helped me better understand some things.
I think that it’s worth revisiting when things are back to normal to see if I feel any different. I absolutely can’t give it anything less than a rating of 3.5 because the story overall was very rich and beautifully written with complex characters. It is very clear how much research and passion went into writing this story. Please don’t let my opinion discourage you from reading this book because there are so many glowing reviews and there is so much potential with this story. If you’ve already read this book, I would love to know your thoughts on it and continue to discuss it!
BEER PAIRING: Conjure Women by Afia Atakora is best paired with Bamburana by Oskar Blues Brewery and Cigar City Brewing. This boozy beer is an imperial stout double barrel-aged in whiskey and brandy barrels with amburana wood spirals, dates and figs. The wood produces a warm, gingerbread spice flavor as well as hints of vanilla 🍻