Review Detail

Root Magic Featured
Kids Fiction 79
Gullah Culture in the 1960s
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Twins Jezebel and Jay are twins living in South Carolina in the early 1960s. Their grandmother has just passed away, and they are being raised by their mother, since their father left the family when they were younger. Their Uncle Doc lives very close, and offers to teach them root magic, so that they can help protect the family since their grandmother is gone. Jez is a bit apprehensive about it at first, although she was interested in learning magic. She and her brother start by doing what seem like mundane chores, painting the house haint blue and helping out their uncle. When they are playing in the creek and Jez hears a voice and feels like something has grabbed her legs and won't let her move, she reevaluates the possibility of magic when a paint stick with the haint blue paint seems to free her. There are other things, like her cloth doll her grandmother made who starts to talk to her, that make her feel that the magic is real. There are other issues in her life; the local police have a new leader who seems to be more sympathetic than the old one, but in the past, the police often threatened Jez's family, searching their property without warning and generally making them feel unsafe. The kids at school make fun of Jez, although she does make one new friend.
Strengths: Jez is an appealing character who is missing her grandmother but trying to make her own way in the world. She is intrigued by the magic even if she doesn't quite trust it. The details about racial problems in the South during this time period are mentioned, and are quite serious, but it was good that they weren't the entire focus of the book. While I don't believe in any kind of magic at all, some families have strong ties to this, and I even saw the graveyard dirt with brick dust for sale of several web sites! The fact that the magic was used in this book for the protection of the family was intriguing. There were some nice twists in this that I don't want to ruin.
Good Points
Jez is an appealing character who is missing her grandmother but trying to make her own way in the world. She is intrigued by the magic even if she doesn't quite trust it. The details about racial problems in the South during this time period are mentioned, and are quite serious, but it was good that they weren't the entire focus of the book. While I don't believe in any kind of magic at all, some families have strong ties to this, and I even saw the graveyard dirt with brick dust for sale of several web sites! The fact that the magic was used in this book for the protection of the family was intriguing. There were some nice twists in this that I don't want to ruin.

This will be a big hit with fans of Baptiste's The Jumbies, Smith's Hoodoo, Rhodes, Ninth Ward and Van Otterloo's Cattywampus with its depiction of family magic as something that is real and helpful to communities that struggle.
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