Review of Conjure Island

Conjure Island Conjure Island
by Eden Royce
Intermediate    Walden Pond/HarperCollins    320 pp.
6/23    9780062899613    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780062899620    $10.99

Because her father is in the Air Force, eleven-year-old Delphinia Baker moves to a new state every year, making it difficult to form lasting friendships. Del is grateful for the one constant in her life: her grandmother. However, when Gramma falls ill while Del’s father is deployed, Del is sent to stay with her great-grandmother, Nana Rose, who runs a school on an island off the coast of South Carolina. Del didn’t know she had a great-grandmother—nor did she know that she comes from a long line of conjurers, spell workers whose magic is tied to the land and the community. At first, Del wants nothing to do with the strange school, but she soon learns that magic is more than incantations and enchantments. Magic is family, community, and life. Still, the mystery remains: why did her grandmother hide the existence of the school, the island, and her family? This heartfelt fantastical novel discusses resonant topics such as belonging, friendship, and grief. Royce’s (Root Magic, rev. 3/21) narrative is filled with magic, but the heart of the story lies in its connection to Southern conjure and Gullah Geechee culture. Share with readers who enjoyed Dumas’s Wildseed Witch and Clayton’s The Marvellers (rev. 5/22).

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

S. R. Toliver

S. R. Toliver is an assistant professor of literacy and secondary humanities at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her public and academic scholarship can be found on her website Follow her on Twitter @SR_Toliver.

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