Incantation

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Overview

Estrella is a Marrano: During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, she is one of a community of Spanish Jews living double lives as Catholics. And she is living in a house of secrets, raised by a family who practices underground the ancient and mysterious way of wisdom known as kabbalah. When Estrella discovers her family's true identity--and her family's secrets are made public--she confronts a world she's never imagined, where new love burns and where friendship ends in flame and ash, where trust is all but ...
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Incantation

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Overview

Estrella is a Marrano: During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, she is one of a community of Spanish Jews living double lives as Catholics. And she is living in a house of secrets, raised by a family who practices underground the ancient and mysterious way of wisdom known as kabbalah. When Estrella discovers her family's true identity--and her family's secrets are made public--she confronts a world she's never imagined, where new love burns and where friendship ends in flame and ash, where trust is all but vanquished and betrayal has tragic and bitter consequences.

Infused with the rich context of history and faith, in her most profoundly moving work to date, Alice Hoffman's first historical novel is a transcendent journey of discovery and loss, rebirth and remembrance.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lamia adopts a vaguely Spanish tone for her reading of Hoffman's tale of a 16-year-old girl in 16th-century Spain who discovers she is a converso-a Jewish convert to Christianity whose family secretly practices the Jewish faith. Lamia trills her Rs and renders her vowels pleasantly strange, sounding more like a Spaniard attempting to tread the unfamiliar ground of English than a native speaker. This strategy occasionally dips toward self-parody, but on the whole, Lamia is pleasant to listen to, and the slightly childish, perky tone of her voice is just right for Hoffman's teenage protagonist. Her unusual reading provides an air of mystery that is entirely appropriate for this story of secret lives unraveled. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Wendy Glenn
Young Estrella DeMadrigal is a Marrano, a member of a community of Jews living in Spain in the early 16th century at a time when Catholicism was considered the one, true faith. Those who refused conversion were killed, and those who converted but retained their Jewish beliefs were forced to live secret lives. Estella's coming-of-age begins when she witnesses soldiers, who are enforcing the church council's new decree, host a public burning of books owned by a Jewish man. Although Estella's mother has taught her that she possesses the power to think her own thoughts and believe in herself, Estrella is not taught the truth about her faith. Her ignorance can no longer protect her, however, as betrayal comes too close to home when Estella's closest friend and confidant, Catalina, along with her mother, turn on another Marrano family in the community as a means to raid their cupboards once they have been taken away. Catalina, out of jealously over the fact that the boy to whom she is promised loves Estrella instead, chooses to then report the DeMadrigal family. Estrella's learned grandfather, spirited brother, and kind mother are arrested and die as a result of their beliefs. Estrella finds the strength to survive from her recognition that knowledge might yield peril but is also a source of power. She asks her readers to remember her story, to remember her. Given the moving narrative, richly drawn characters, vivid historical context, and poetic language, this task is easily within reach. Reminiscent of Ben Mikaelsen's Tree Girl, Hoffman's story is both difficult and essential reading.
Larisa Schumann
This coming-of-age story about Estrella deMadrigal, set in medieval Spain, looks at contrasts and appearances. At first Estrella sees herself as the look-alike and sister to her best friend, Catalina. She also sees herself as a Christian. But when Estrella witnesses a book burning in the town's plaza, her world begins to change. Soon public denouncements and executions follow as the town fathers accuse all Jews of witchcraft and sorcery. Estrella finally sees what has always been around her. There is a secret her family is protecting—secret knowledge of the Jews or kabbalah, which is taught in her family's house. Family rituals are really Jewish rituals and family members have secret names. Along her journey to selfhood, Estrella falls in love, loses her best friend, and survives horrific persecution. The historical setting and Biblical allusions add richness to this coming-of-age story. Alice Hoffman's characters are well developed and speak with unique voices. This story will foster discussions about diversity, religious freedom, friendships, and betrayal. But, most of all, it is a poignant and often painful tale of growing up.
VOYA - Ruth Cox Clark
Hoffman, author of the apocalyptic Green Angel (Scholastic, 2003/VOYA April 2003), tears a horrific page from history and melds it with mysticism to create a spellbinding tale told by Estrella, the youngest in a tight-knit family of Spanish Jews hiding as devout Catholics during the Inquisition. Sixteen-year-old Estrella and Catalina are sure that they will marry and live next door to each other, but their idyllic thoughts end with the town council's first decree: "No Jewish books, no medical books, no magic books." The second decree lists ten ways to determine if your neighbor is a Jew. "Turn one in, and you share all he owns, halved with the court." As Estrella reads the list, she realizes the truth, one that she cannot share with anyone, especially not Catalina, whose intended has fallen in love with Estrella. At first glimpse, this tale is of betrayal, but a closer look loosens the pages of a love story-the love of one's faith and family. Estrella/Esther will survive to continue this love story. Hoffman crafts a lyrical, short-sentenced text that reads like poetry. The book itself is visually beautiful, from shades of gold and red on the cover to gray tones illustrating title pages for the sections: Soul, Angels, Darkening Light, and Husks. Although similar to Carol Matas's The Burning Time (Delacorte, 1994/VOYA October 1994) in relation to the depth of the love between mother and daughter, this novel stands alone as a tightly woven tale of love overcoming betrayal and prejudice.
KLIATT
Alice Hoffman's books of magical realism and even more magical language have great appeal to teens. Here, she deliberately focuses on a YA audience to address a difficult topic: Jews living in hiding under the guise of Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition. Sixteen-year-old Estrella doesn't even know she is Jewish, although her family practices kabbalah in secret; but still she is bothered when a rabbi's books are publicly burned. The atmosphere of their beautiful little town becomes poisoned and dangerous. Anyone, it seems, can turn in a neighbor to the authorities on suspicion of being a Jew, and their house, lands, and possessions are forfeited. Adults are put to death and the children raised by Christians. Estrella's best friend Catalina, not as pretty or as charming, turns on her when she discovers her handsome betrothed is falling in love with Estrella and Estrella is falling in love with him. Estrella learns about betrayal and her secret identity at the same time. Hoffman's signature lyricism is much in evidence but her prose is not as rich in detail as in her other books. The result is a story that reads like a black fairy tale. The dragons to be slain are religious intolerance and racial discrimination. However, these dragons never die and ultimately only escape is possible. Hoffman introduces a little-known part of history to YA readers, but those familiar with her other books may long for more detail and motivation. KLIATT Codes: JS*--Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2006, Little, Brown, 166p., $16.99.. Ages 12 to 18.
—Myrna Marler
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up
Alice Hoffman's historical novel (Little, Brown, 2006) is brought to life compellingly in Jenna Lamia's subtly accented reading. At the dawn of the 16th century, Spain's Jews have fled, been restricted to ghettoes, or converted to Christianity in order to live openly in Spanish society. Estrella's family has lived in her village for 500 years and is, as far as the 16-year-old knows, like all her neighbors and her best friend, fervently Catholic. In fact, however, they are hidden Jews, and Estrella realizes this only weeks before it occurs to the townspeople. Hoffman describes with accuracy, but without undue manipulation, the devastation of Estrella's family through torture and murder, her confrontation of the truths about her supposed friend and her neighbors, and her newly found and embraced identity. An interesting love story adds an unusual element to the novel. An excellent choice for curriculum support as well as for casual listeners.
—Francisca GoldsmithCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Echoes of the Holocaust reverberate through this 16th-century tale of a young Spanish woman who discovers through love, betrayal and tragedy that her family is secretly Jewish. Estrella has never questioned why she's sometimes called "Esther" at home, why her family lights candles before dinner on Friday and other habits-until she reads a poster that describes the practices of Jews, who hide beneath a veil of Christianity to protect themselves. Meanwhile, a growing attachment with Andres, a neighbor, poisons her relationship with her closest friend Catalina, to whom he's been promised. In revenge, Catalina goes to the authorities, setting in motion a chain of arrests, mock trials and at last, a huge auto-da-f‚ that leaves only Estrella and her grandmother alive. Having witnessed it all, Estrella washes off the ashes and sets out for the New World, vowing not to let herself or her descendants forget. More poet than historian, Hoffman focuses less on period detail than on her protagonist's inner life and voice; her tale therefore has a timeless quality, though because she leaves the background vague, and also gives Estrella's family elders mystical powers, it's not her most convincing outing. (Fiction. 12-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316154284
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 10/1/2007
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 199,226
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.75 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice  Hoffman
Alice Hoffman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 15 acclaimed novels beloved by teens and adults, from THE FORETELLING, GREEN ANGEL, and AQUAMARINE to THE ICE QUEEN, HERE ON EARTH (an Oprah's Book Club selection), and PRACTICAL MAGIC, which was made into a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. INCANTATION is Hoffman's fifth young adult novel.

Biography

Born in the 1950s to college-educated parents who divorced when she was young, Alice Hoffman was raised by her single, working mother in a blue-collar Long Island neighborhood. Although she felt like an outsider growing up, she discovered that these feelings of not quite belonging positioned her uniquely to observe people from a distance. Later, she would hone this viewpoint in stories that captured the full intensity of the human experience.

After high school, Hoffman went to work for the Doubleday factory in Garden City. But the eight-hour, supervised workday was not for her, and she quit before lunch on her first day! She enrolled in night school at Adelphi University, graduating in 1971 with a degree in English. She went on to attend Stanford University's Creative Writing Center on a Mirrellees Fellowship. Her mentor at Stanford, the great teacher and novelist Albert Guerard, helped to get her first story published in the literary magazine Fiction. The story attracted the attention of legendary editor Ted Solotaroff, who asked if she had written any longer fiction. She hadn't -- but immediately set to work. In 1977, when Hoffman was 25, her first novel, Property Of, was published to great fanfare.

Since that remarkable debut, Hoffman has carved herself a unique niche in American fiction. A favorite with teens as well as adults, she renders life's deepest mysteries immediately understandable in stories suffused with magic realism and a dreamy, fairy-tale sensibility. (In a 1994 article for The New York Times, interviewer Ruth Reichl described the magic in Hoffman's books as a casual, regular occurrence -- "...so offhand that even the most skeptical reader can accept it.") Her characters' lives are transformed by uncontrollable forces -- love and loss, sorrow and bliss, danger and death.

Hoffman's 1997 novel Here on Earth was selected as an Oprah Book Club pick, but even without Winfrey's powerful endorsement, her books have become huge bestsellers -- including three that have been adapted for the movies: Practical Magic (1995), The River King (2000), and her YA fable Aquamarine (2001).

Hoffman is a breast cancer survivor; and like many people who consider themselves blessed with luck, she believes strongly in giving back. For this reason, she donated her advance from her 1999 short story collection Local Girls to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

Good To Know

  • Hoffman has written a number of children's books, including Fireflies: A Winter's Tale(1999), Horsefly (2000), and Moondog (2004).

  • Aquamarine was written for Hoffman's best friend, Jo Ann, who dreamed of the freedom of mermaids as she battled brain cancer.

  • Here on Earth is a modern version of Hoffman's favorite novel, Wuthering Heights.

  • Hoffman has been honored with the Massachusetts Book Award for her teen novel Incantation.
  • Read More Show Less
      1. Hometown:
        Boston, Massachusetts
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 16, 1952
      2. Place of Birth:
        New York, New York
      1. Education:
        B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974
      2. Website:

    Read an Excerpt

    Incantation


    By Alice Hoffman

    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

    Copyright © 2007 Alice Hoffman
    All rights reserved.
    ISBN: 978-0-316-15428-4


    CHAPTER 1

    SOUL

    Be careful

    Ashes


    If every life is a river, then it's little wonder that we do not even notice the changes that occur until we are far out in the darkest sea. One day you look around and nothing is familiar, not even your own face.

    My name once meant daughter, granddaughter, friend, sister, beloved. Now those words mean only what their letters spell out: Star in the night sky. Truth in the darkness.

    I have crossed over to a place where I never thought I'd be. I am someone I would have never imagined. A secret. A dream. I am this, body and soul. Burn me. Drown me. Tell me lies. I will still be who I am.


    We lived in a tiny village in Spain. It is gone now, but then it was called Encaleflora, the name of the lime flower, something bitter and something sweet mixed into one. It was a town that had been my family's home for more than five hundred years, a beautiful village in the most beautiful countryside in all of Aragon.

    It began on a hot day.

    I was out in the garden when I smelled something burning. Not lime flowers, only pure bitterness. Cores, rinds, pits. That was the way it started. That was the way our world disappeared.


    On the day of the burning, my dearest friend, Catalina, ran into our yard and grabbed my hand, urging me to follow her.

    Let's run to the Plaza, Catalina said. Let's see what's on fire.

    Catalina was always curious, always fun. She had a laugh that reminded me of the sound of water. She was shorter than I, but even though my grandmother said Catalina's hair was too curly and her nose was bumpy, I thought we looked like sisters.

    Catalina and I were so close nothing could come between us. We had been best friends from the time we were babies. When I looked at my friend I saw not only the child she'd been and the girl that she was, but also the woman she was about to be. Other girls I knew talked behind your back and smiled at you falsely. Not Catalina. She knew who I was deep inside: I could be lazy sometimes; I believed in true love; I was head-strong and loyal, a friend until the end of time.

    Because of our jet-colored hair, Catalina and I had been given similar pet names as little girls. I had been called Raven and Catalina had been Crow. Our birthdays were one week apart, and we had at last turned sixteen. We thought about our futures, how they twined around each other, as if we were two strands of a single braid of fate. Even when we were married women, we planned to live next door to each other. We thought we knew exactly what our lives were made of: still water, not a moving river.

    We thought nothing would ever change.

    On the burning day, we raced down to the Plaza, where we always went to fetch water. There was a well in the center of the Plaza, and the water we pulled up in wooden buckets was said to come from heaven. It was sweet and clear and so cold it made us shiver.

    To the north stood the old Duke's palace, but he was gone, and our church council reported directly to the king, Ferdinand. The palace was empty, except for the soldiers' barracks and the center where letters could be posted. People said the ghost of the Duke came down to drink cold, clear water on windy nights and that you could hear him if you listened carefully. But today no one was drawing water from the well, not even a ghost. There were scores of men all around, but they hadn't come for water. Soldiers had built a pyre out of aged wood. Pine and old forest oak, all of it so dry it burst into flames the moment a lit torch touched the wood.

    At first I thought the soldiers were burning doves. White things were rising into the sky. I felt so sad for those poor burning birds, then I realized the burning pile was made of books. Pages flew upward, disappearing, turning to embers and ash, drifting into nothingness.

    I saw a man with a red circle on his coat, crying. He had a long beard like my grandfather, but my grandfather would never cry, with tears streaming down his beard, there for all to see. The crying man was begging the soldiers not to throw his books on the fire, and they were laughing at him. A guard took a handful of ashes and tossed them onto the old man so that sparks flared all over his coat.

    He's from the alajama, Catalina whispered about the old man.

    That was the part of town where Jews lived that some called the juderia. Our parents didn't allow us to go there. We were Christians. A hundred years beforehand most of the Jews in Spain had either been forced to convert or flee the country. The stubborn ones who remained and declared themselves to be Jews were the ones who lived behind gates–the red circle people who seemed willing to do anything, even die, for their precious books; people who by law could not own land, marry outside their faith, eat a meal with a Christian.

    There were cinders floating down into Catalina's black hair. She didn't notice, so I brushed them away.

    Those are his books, Catalina said of the old man in the ashes. The town council has posted a new decree. No Jewish books, no medical books, no magic books.

    I saw the way the soldiers treated this man. As if he were a bird caught in a snare made of his own bones. His coat had caught on fire, but he no longer cried. I think he may have looked at me. I think I may have looked back.

    Catalina applauded with the other onlookers in the square when a soldier threw a bucket of cold water over the old man. I merely stood there.

    My mother, Abra, had taught me that all people are made from the same dust. When our days here are gone, all men and women enter the same garden. My mother had put a finger to her lips when she told me this. She taught me some of what she'd learned from her father, secret things I must never repeat. Lessons that sounded as though they would be easy, but which turned out to be difficult. How to look at stars and know their names. How to gaze into a bowl of water until it was possible to see all that existed in that one small bowl.

    Once I fell asleep while gazing, and my mother laughed when I awoke with a start, my chin in the water.

    I'm not smart enough to learn anything, I had admitted.

    You don't learn such things, my mother had said. You feel them.

    Now my mother saw me with Catalina in the Plaza. She looked shocked to see us in the middle of the rioting, in a place we shouldn't be.

    My mother had a basket of wool with her; she had been to the dye vats near the river, and her arms were tinted from her work. My mother was known for the yarn she sold. Whatever Abra did was beautiful; she had the ability to make something wondrous out of something plain. That was her talent, one I envied. Any wool spun at her wheel was finer than all the rest, even though our sheep were as silly as any others.

    Sometimes I went with my mother when she called on her clients, carrying a basket of yarn that was dyed every shade of blue imaginable. Turquoise, aqua, night blue, ultramarine, bird's egg blue, early morning blue, inside-of-a-cloud blue, pond blue, river blue, blue as all eternity. My mother's hands were always blue, sometimes like water, sometimes like the sky, sometimes like the colors of a bird's feathers.

    There in the Plaza, my mother was like a piece of the sky coming right at me. A person should never come face-to-face with the sky. She looked as frightening as my grandmother did when she was angry. Fierce. Unrelenting. She ran over and grabbed me. There must have been sparks in my hair as there had been in Catalina's, because my mother put her hands in my hair. She clasped my head so hard that it hurt.

    My mother and I had always been more like sisters than mother and daughter, but not today. Today I was a child, one who should have known better than to be in the Plaza. Without waiting for me to explain, my mother dragged me along, tugging on my hair. My black hair that was so long I sometimes felt I had wings. Even before the other children called me Raven, I had often dreamed I could fly. I would fly until I could go no farther, so far away no one had ever been there before. In my dreams I would enter into a garden where the roses were big enough for me to curl up inside them. I would know how to decipher symbols I had never even seen in my waking life.

    As we left the Plaza, I looked over my shoulder. The man with the red circle was curled up as the guards kicked him. There were no roses, only the brightness of the flames. Ashes kept falling. The Plaza was dirty and gray.

    Something from deep inside the world had crept up from the well; a monster set loose in our midst. The fire was his breath; the jeers all around were his snarls. I felt something burn inside of me.

    I called for Catalina, but she was too busy watching the guards to pay any attention. My mother refused to let me stay alongside my friend.

    We are leaving and that's that. Never look at other people's bad fortune, my mother said. If you do, it will come back to find you instead of its rightful owner.


    Bones

    All that day we could hear people shouting in the streets. Stones were thrown; windows were smashed; the gates of the juderia were painted red, the color of the devil's work. In edicts posted all over the village, the town fathers declared they were sick of the Jews stealing from them, although what had been stolen was never disclosed.

    Because some Jews were moneylenders, they were blamed for the town's recent bad fortune. In truth, everyone knew Jews were only permitted to lend money because the church wouldn't allow one Christian to lend another money. How much money could there be in such dealings? The Jews weren't rich. In the walled-off section of town where they lived, there were no lime trees, no ivy, no gardens filled with jasmine. In summer, the heat baked the bare earth into bricks. I had seen the children looking through the wall; they wore no shoes. At night, the gate was locked, the way we locked the pens of our chickens and pigs.

    People came to ask my grandfather, Jose deMadrigal, what he thought of what was happening in the Plaza. Our closest friends always wanted his advice. My grandfather was a respected teacher. Boys in the village often came to study with him; only the best students, the brightest boys. These students were afraid of my grandfather, as I was, but there was something more in these boys' eyes: they admired him. They hurried to their lessons and bowed when my grandfather walked in the door. They huddled around him to hear his wisdom, just as our friends did on the day of the burning.

    My older brother, Luis, was studying at the seminary. He was my grandparents' favorite, and for good reason. Luis was compassionate and kind, a brilliant student. Being at the seminary was an honor, and Luis had passed many difficult exams before he was chosen. My grandfather had helped him in his studies toward becoming a priest; he'd worked hard with Luis, teaching him Latin and Greek. I often heard my grandfather say a prayer for my brother when he thought no one could hear, not like the ones we said in church; something special, for Luis alone.

    No matter how proud I was, I missed my brother, especially today, when everything seemed so frightening. I knew we'd all feel better if Luis were at home.

    As for me, to the great Jose deMadrigal I was nothing more than a bothersome fly, not worth the least bit of attention. I was jealous, because my grandfather ignored me even when I asked the simplest questions: Why did we light candles on some nights and not others? Why couldn't girls be educated?

    Take the child away, he would call to my grandmother whenever I questioned him. Teach her to make bread.

    He felt that way about all women, except for my mother, whom he treated as though she were a son. He adored Abra, and because of this my mother thought she was the queen of all fate. My grandfather had let her run wild, so my mother was not afraid of anything or anyone. She could speak so many languages, people joked that she could speak to the birds. She was so intelligent that when my grandfather's friends came over for tea and heated discussions, my grandfather let her participate in the conversations. Women were not often allowed to do this. Abra had to sit behind a screen at these times. Otherwise men who were scholars might stop thinking about serious matters; one of them might even get it into his head that he should marry my mother.

    Abra considered herself married for all eternity even though my father, the love of her life, had been gone for so long. He was lost to illness when I was only a baby, in the time of the black fever. He left us before I could remember him. But I remembered how much my mother loved him. She still wore an emerald ring my father had given to her on their wedding day. She was partial to emeralds; she said they were the single thing that remained constant, always green, always the same.

    When our friends gathered in our doorway on the burning day, my grandfather told them that the soldiers in the Plaza were driven by bloodlust and evil. A monster brought to life, just as I'd thought. Something let loose from the very deepest part of the earth.

    Stay away, my grandfather told our friends. You don't fight a monster with sticks and stones.

    Even the pigs in the yard were frightened by the noise in the Plaza. Poor Dini, my special pet, hid under the porch. Other families killed a pig every spring to make chorizo sausages, but my family preferred green vegetables, so Dini was getting strong and fat. Catalina and I often sneaked him into my room and let him sleep on my bed while we played with him as if he were a doll. Once we dressed him up in my brother's baby clothes. When I called Dini by name he came running to me, and he would bow on command.

    All the same, Dini was still a big baby, afraid of the screaming in the Plaza, refusing to come out from under the porch, even when called, which meant I would have to wash him later with lavender soap so my grandmother wouldn't complain that he was a filthy creature that should be sold at market.

    My grandfather may have ignored me completely, but my grandmother was even worse. She noticed only what was wrong, never what was right. My grandmother was called Carmen, but I never thought of her as a woman with a name. She was too demanding for anything as human as that. I called her Señora out of respect, but also out of fear.

    My grandmother had long white hair that she braided and wore up, like most women her age. She knew all the tricks a girl might play, and she couldn't abide laziness. Sometimes I truly believed my grandmother could read the thoughts in my head, especially if they were thoughts of doing bad things, like climbing out the window at night to sneak through the Arrias family's yard and meet Catalina so that we could dance in the field of sunflowers when the moon was high in the sky. My grandmother would always be waiting outside the window, ready to catch me when I came back. As a punishment I would have to sweep not just the house, but also the yard where the chickens were kept.

    Sometimes the little Arrias sisters from next door, Marianna and Antonia, came to help me with my chores while their mother was out cutting sunflowers for the market. All the while we worked, my grandmother would watch with a tight, unfriendly smile. See, she was telling me without saying a word. Even the little sisters do better than you, and they are only eight and nine. She would offer the Arrias sisters drinks of iced lime, alicante granizado, or horchata, almond milk, treats she never offered to me.

    Nothing I did was good enough for my grandmother. When she taught me to make kouclas, the dumplings we added to our favorite dish, adafina, our Friday night chicken stew, she would stand right over me. Mix it faster, she would say.

    Any dumpling I tried to make always fell apart. Unlike my mother, I did not make things more beautiful. Under my grandmother's watchful eyes, I grew nervous and made mistakes.

    Don't cut your nails and let them fall! my grandmother would tell me. That is a sure way to be cursed. She would gather my nail clippings together and burn them in a dish till they were nothing but ash. She said she wanted to protect me from any echizo, witchcraft; witches made spells out of nails and hair.

    Once I used rouge before going to church on Sunday, and although I swore that the sun had burned me, my grandmother scrubbed my face with soap.
    (Continues...)


    Excerpted from Incantation by Alice Hoffman. Copyright © 2007 Alice Hoffman. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 93 Customer Reviews
    • Posted May 11, 2011

      Disappointing

      Only 78 pages. Reads like a high school short story writing assignment.

      1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted January 16, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Beautiful

      Beautifully written, and a beautiful story, but it happened too fast. Really important things would be described in less than a sentence. I just wish it was longer.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 1, 2008

      Amazing

      I bought this book at school it was the best book I have ever read in my life. But I am only 14.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 8, 2008

      A reviewer

      This book truly cast a spell on me. It was so beautiful and tragic, with a glimmer of hope at the end. Even though it was set in the time of the Spanish Inquisition, I believe anyone can relate to it. The feeling of betrayal and love is something anyone can identify with. The imagery was beautiful, and the allegories were superb. I especially liked how she decribed the burning paper as doves. And how there was a dragon who comes up from the well. My favorite, however, is how her mother described tears as being blue. Such a beautiful story.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 27, 2008

      Magical.

      I was assigned to read a book based outside of the country, and I was given a choice of a couple books. Included in these choices was Incantation, by Alice Hoffman. I mainly grabbed it because I absolutely LOVED the cover-art. But when I began to read it, I was amazed. It illustrated everything so simply, yet so darkly. The book is a work of art reccommended to anyone who loves a good romance/mystery/coming-of-age tale.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 2, 2014

      Love this book!!!!!

      I really hope that she and Andres get married

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 26, 2014

      I absolutely loved this book. Hoffman is an excellent story tell

      I absolutely loved this book. Hoffman is an excellent story teller with a gift for imagery. With themes of loss, love and betrayal this book really kept me reading. The relationships shown in this book are ones we can all relate to. Estrella's strong family and Catalina the back-stabbing friend. This is an easy read that I would certainly recommend. An really wonderful book.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 21, 2014

      Hoffman is an amazing, magical writer who understands how to tou

      Hoffman is an amazing, magical writer who understands how to touch a reader's heart. Beautiful book.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 6, 2014

      what does the sentence something from deep inside  the world cre

      what does the sentence something from deep inside  the world crept up from the well: a monster set loose in our midst. The fire  was his breath, the jeers all around were his snarls. I felt something burn inside of me. 

      can anyone please specify this paragraph thank yo

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 30, 2013

      Great book

      As always hoffman does great

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 8, 2013

      I had to read this book in middle school. If you enjoy romance,

      I had to read this book in middle school. If you enjoy romance, drama, betrayal, violence, etc, this book is for you!

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 15, 2012

      Great book !

      This book is greatly written so make sure to put it on your list!

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    • Posted April 26, 2012

      Highly Recommended

      I recieved the book in perfect condition, with no rips, tears, scratches, or any other mark. The book itself is a very good book, but sad too. I think it is a must read for teens and young adults.

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    • Posted October 11, 2011

      An Absolute Masterpiece

      This book is a perfect mixture of wisdom, love, and tears. It opens up a whole new perspective on life and the Spanish Inquisition. This book certainly made me become more aware of the world and the uglier side of human nature. Hoffman has made a masterpiece from one of the most horrid events in the history of human nature.

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    • Posted March 9, 2011

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Wonderful short story

      A nice short story of the repression of Jews. Would have liked to have the story been alittle longer, think them traveling to amsterdamn would have been nice and once they got there. Plus the development of the relationship that was just starting.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted February 12, 2011

      A Must-Have Book! 5 Stars!

      This book has amazing detail, and interesting story-line! i felt as if I was there, like i was the main character staring death in the face! Couldnt be any better. 5 Stars.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted January 25, 2011

      You have to read it!

      Incantation is a wonderful novel by Alice Hoffman. It is a captivating book that is great for young adults. It is a story about love, betrayal, family, and secrets. Estrella discovers her family secrets and not everything she thought she was is true.
      In Spain 1500, Estrella de Madriga lives with her family in a tiny village in Spain called Encaleflora. At this time there was the Spanish inquisition and it was a dangerous time for varying religions to be. Many Jews at this time were either out of Spain or being searched for. Many Jews had to go into hiding because of it and practice their religions secretly. Estrella thought that she knew the world around her: who her friends were, who she was, what her family was like. But when she discovers a secret that has burdened her family it changes her world forever, everything that she thought she knew changes. Her Grandmother is harsh and is very critical of Estrella and what she does, but what drives her to be like this? Her Grandfather is the opposite as a powerful man he ignores her and keeps his eyes on her brother, the family jewel. Luis is her brother and is studying to become a priest and can rarely visit his family. Catalina is Estrella's best friend and is promised to marry her handsome cousin Andres. He has blonde hair and blue eyes which is a rarity in their small village. Estrella's mother is beautiful with an education and is one of the best yarn dyers in the town.
      This book was outstanding and has made me reread it over and over again. I was truly captivated by the love, family, and betrayal that was expressed throughout the novel. Though outstanding overall in a few parts of the novel it managed to get a little slow but it was still an amazing book.
      I would recommend this book for teenagers and adults, for there were a few parts that might go over a younger child's head. It would help if you had some background knowledge to the time period. But overall it was a beautiful storyline and that is why it was a must read

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 13, 2011

      nice

      we read this book in 8th grade! amazing!!!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 1, 2010

      READ NOW!

      this book made me breathe heavily and cry and cheer. its a beautiful love story, a terrible tragedy, and full of grief and sadness. its the most emotional book ive ever read. please read this, buy this, you wont regret this purchase. (: best of luck - erica

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    • Posted May 26, 2010

      A book I loved.

      This was a great book. It was emotional and even though predictable, I loved it. The way it was written is just the way Spain was at that time. I felt so connected to Estrella because she was such a strong character. I loved it from begining to end.

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 93 Customer Reviews

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