Conjure Island

Conjure Island
Age Range
Release Date
June 27, 2023
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If you ask Delphinia Baker, she’d tell you she has all the family she needs. Sure, her mom passed away when she was young, her dad is often away on deployment, but even though Del has never had anyone she can call her people, she has always had her grandmother—and that’s enough. Besides, having no roots just makes it that much easier when you have to move again.

All of that changes, though, when Gramma falls ill and Del is sent to stay with her great-grandmother. Del has never even heard of Nana Rose, and she has no interest in spending the summer on an unbearably hot island off the South Carolina coast. And when Nana Rose starts talking about the school she runs dedicated to their family’s traditions—something called “conjure magic”—Del knows she’s in for a weird, awkward summer.

That is, until the magic turns out to be real.

Soon, Del is surrounded by teachers who call themselves witches, kids with strange abilities, creatures and ghosts who can speak to her. She has a hundred questions, but one more than any other: Why didn’t Gramma ever tell her about her family, the island, this magic? As Del sets out to find her place in a world she never knew existed, she also discovers a shadowy presence on the island—and comes to believe that it all might be connected.

Editor review

1 review
Reuniting family
Overall rating
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What worked:
Del is unaware she possesses conjure magic but her character still presents hints that something strange is happening on the island. She gets sensations that someone is staring at her but she can’t spot anybody when she looks around. She later sees a shadowy shape that no one else notices. Del’s afraid to say anything because others might think she’s strange or won’t believe her. Del is the reason the group protection spell didn’t work so she doesn’t want to draw any attention. The worries she feels about fitting in continue and affect many of her poor decisions.
The story promotes a strong sense of family and heritage even though the connections in Del’s family are damaged. Del’s mother died during childbirth and Del’s now separated from her gramma for the first time, missing her dearly. Del’s now spending time with her great-grandmother, Nana Rose, who runs the conjure school. Gramma never told Del about Nana Rose and Del doesn’t understand why. Gramma and Nana Rose haven’t spoken in forty years and Del is determined to find out what happened and fix the problem. She’s lived a life of moving around with a military father and her innermost desire is to have a stable home and family. The purpose of Conjure Island is to preserve the heritage of its people and it offers Del an opportunity to bring peace into the lives of those she loves.
The tone of the book is very positive which is refreshing in middle-grade literature. Del fears how she’ll be treated by the others and readers might anticipate she’ll be bullied. That doesn’t happen. Eva immediately befriends her and offers to help Del transition into the conjuring world. Even when Del messes up, multiple times, Eva supports her and will do whatever is needed. The teachers, or sorcells, are understanding of Del’s situation and frustrations and they constantly provide encouraging words. Del is rescued from a couple of dangerous predicaments but she’s not severely disciplined by Nana Rose. Readers won’t find any big egos or characters with hidden agendas to create drama as the whole plot centers on healing Del’s family.
What didn’t work as well:
Nana Rose has everyone perform a protection spell when the camp first starts but the actual threat is unclear. It seems like the danger must be more than ravaging wild boars but it’s still a mystery at the end of the book. The potential conflict simmers in the background throughout the story.
The final verdict:
The author allows readers to use their imaginations to make predictions which result in some surprises near the end. The overall story is pleasant with moments of suspense when Del makes bad choices. I recommend you give the book a shot.
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