Published: October 16th, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Copy: Received for review
Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.
When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends--are lost forever.
Conjure was an interesting and enjoyable read for me. The story hinges around the finding of a pirate treasure and the breaking of a 300 year old curse. When goaded by Maggie, a new girl on the island, Jack opens the treasure and sets off the curse. Basically he starts to disintegrate slowly, so that his bones are showing, starting with his hand. Pretty gruesome actually. It is up to his twin sister Emma and friend Cooper to try and break the curse. It was interesting to see how Jack's character changed whilst under the influence of the curse, although you can't really blame him.
As the full ramifications of the curse come to light the action heats up and Jack, Emma and Cooper have to engage in some highjinx to try and sort things out. Of course nothing is straight forward and with the arrival of plateyes, or hell hounds, things really start to get interesting. Also the added discovery of a 2nd curse that affects Cooper's family adds to the tension. One of the things I loved were the flashbacks using hoodoo. Whenever the pirate, Bloody Bill, came into the picture I had images of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Captain Barbosa in particular and the scene where one of the pirates thrusts a hand through bars and it shows as a skeleton when the moon hits it.
It's obvious that Ms Nolan has done a lot of research into Hoodoo and I found it fascinating the way the herbs are used. The idea that there has to be balance in the world is not new and Emma's struggle to learn what she needs from Miss Delia while keeping the balance was well done. There is also a very sweet romance brewing between Cooper and Emma that made me smile.
Conjure is very suitable for younger teens looking for something a little different in an adventure story, and by the end, it becomes obvious that there are going to be at least one more book to follow. I look forward to reading it.