The Summoner (Zora and Me, #3)
For Carrie and her best friend, Zora, Eatonville—America’s first incorporated Black township—has been an idyllic place to live out their childhoods. But when a lynch mob crosses the town’s border to pursue a fugitive and a grave robbery resuscitates the ugly sins of the past, the safe ground beneath them seems to shift. Not only has Zora’s own father—the showboating preacher John Hurston—decided to run against the town’s trusted mayor, but there are other unsettling things afoot, including a heartbreaking family loss, a friend’s sudden illness, and the suggestion of voodoo and zombie-ism in the air, which a curious and grieving Zora becomes all too willing to entertain.
In this fictionalized tale, award-winning author Victoria Bond explores the end of childhood and the bittersweet goodbye to Eatonville by preeminent author Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960). In so doing, she brings to a satisfying conclusion the story begun in the award-winning Zora and Me and its sequel, Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground, sparking inquisitive readers to explore Hurston’s own seminal work.
Terrace is ultimately murdered, and this tragedy is followed soon by another - the grave robbing of Chester Cools and then a mysterious illness that raises questions of zombies and voodoo. Zora and Carrie seem to be in the heart of it all, bringing their story to life.
What I loved: This book handles some big themes in a way that is perfect for a middle grade audience. The era is captured well, and the racism and dangers come to life through Zora and Carrie's story. There is also the theme of the use of Black individuals for medical schools and related experimentation that is presented appropriately - their bodies are taken because they are seen as less than, and there is nothing the people left behind can do about it. It is a horrible but real practice. These themes are all woven together in a story that comes to life for the middle grade audience through the eyes of Carrie and Zora.
Final verdict: ZORA AND ME: THE SUMMONER is a historical fiction middle grade read that touches on important themes while also engaging young readers. Although this is the third in a trilogy, it could be read as a stand-alone, though they would all be worth reading. Recommend for children who enjoy mystery and light suspense reads.