Saturday, March 12, 2016

Smith, Ronald L. Hoodoo.

Smith, Ronald L.  Hoodoo.  Houghton Mifflin/Clarion  2015  208p  $16.99  ISBN 978-0-544-44525-3  ms   Supernatural  E-BN     

In Ronald Smith’s character Hoodoo, the author has created a masterpiece.  Readers take the journey with this young African-American, a journey into the world of conjuring, spells, evil and the afterworld.  What is amazing is that this world is so aptly described and believable that the reader will close the book at the end and breathe a sigh of relief for poor Hoodoo, believing as he does that his powers are real.  Hoodoo has some rather charming character traits, not the least of which is the way he looks at life and the way he speaks right to his readers, often explaining the meanings of words, finishing with “if you didn’t know.  To begin with, young Hoodoo lives with Mama Frances.  His daddy has passed.  In the first chapter, he meets the Stranger, a spirit man who is looking for him, but for what reason, Hoodoo does not know.  Hoodoo begins to feel creepy, often dreaming about the Stranger and also having visions that he cannot comprehend.  His best friend Bunny is with him when his challenge is revealed by Mrs. Snuff, the carnival’s fortune teller.  She warns Hoodoo  of the darkness that follows him, advising him to help his family, whose fate he holds in his hands.  The plot thickens when the town’s cemetery is broken into.  Someone has chopped off the hands of the dead.   Much of the rising action involves Hoodoo’s search for answers, the realization that he has conjuring powers that he must learn to harness, and the revelation of the real story behind the death of his father.  From that point on, the pace is quick, the action is intense, and the confrontation, satisfying for young readers.  This does not feel like a debut novel; rather, it reflects all of the solid writing skills of a more experienced author.  It is unique, and that is not easy to find these days with the glut of books about dystopian societies, teen angst or abused children.      

Summary: Hoodoo must figure out why the Stranger is trying to find him, how to protect his family from him, and how to use the conjuring powers which his family suspects he possesses before it is too late.       

Occult-Fiction                                        --Martha Squaresky

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