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Reviewed by:
  • Root Magic by Eden Royce
  • Quinita Balderson

Royce, Eden Root Magic. Walden Pond/HarperCollins, 2021 [352p] Trade ed. ISBN 9780062899576 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9780062899606 $8.99 Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 4-7

Eleven-year-old twins Jezebel and Jay Turner mourn the death of their gran, the best healer in South Carolina's marshlands. When Gran was alive, she and the twins' uncle, Doc, worked the root, making protective magic with potions and powders and providing townspeople with advice; with Gran gone, Doc recruits Jez and Jay. Jez is hopeful that learning root would bring good fortune, but she's being bullied at school, supernatural forces attempt to pull her under the marsh, a prospective friend turns out to be a boo-hag (a monster capable of unzipping and stepping out of its skin to haunt during the night), and threatening Deputy Collins, who menaces the Black citizens, seem to have his sights on the family. The novel effectively interweaves its supernatural and realistic components, capably depicting a Gullah family in a 1960s southern setting in an era of JFK's assassination and the growth of the civil rights movement, while also spookily including creatures such as boo-hags and poppets. Magic has a foot in both worlds, warding off ghosts but also defending the family from Collins, the more haunting issue. Jez is a relatable apprentice as she learns the traditions of rootwork without abandoning her own principles, and her story hearteningly emphasizes maintaining a connection to ancestors as a way to negotiate and survive the present. [End Page 231]



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p. 231
Launched on MUSE
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