"An unexpected read: exciting, dangerous, adventurous—everything we want from a good book." —Teen Librarian Toolbox
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.
But when a strange girl bent on revenge appears, 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 the last days of summer—and her friends—are lost forever.
The Hoodoo Apprentice series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Conjure
Book #2 Allure
Book #3 Illusion
About the Author
Lea Nolan is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes books for young adults featuring bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She also pens smart, witty contemporary stories for adults filled with head-swooning, heart-throbbing, sweep-you-off your feet romance.
With a master's degree in women's studies and public policy, and an undergraduate degree in history, she spent twenty years as a health policy analyst and researcher, writing hundreds of fascinating reports and articles tens of people enjoyed. Today, she teaches graduate courses in health policy, law, and financing, and takes on the occasional consulting gig.
Born and raised on Long Island, New York, she loves the water far too much to live inland. With her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, she resides in Maryland where she scarfs down crab cakes whenever she gets the chance. Contact her via her website www.LeaNolan. com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/LeaNolanAuthor or on Twitter @Lea_Nolan.
Read an Excerpt
The waves thrash against the shore in a rage. Last night's storm might be over, but St. Helena Island Sound is still angry. And I couldn't be more thrilled.
"Emma, how much longer is that sketch going to take?" my brother Jack calls into the wind. "You promised to surf with us before the waves die down."
An osprey squawks overhead, searching for prey in the churning water.
"Just a second." Squinting at the oil pastel drawing in my lap, I wiggle my toes in the cool sand. This beach is normally postcard perfect — sharp blue sky, shimmering teal water, and white talcum-powder sand — a never-changing snapshot of sunny South Carolina summer. But last night's storm switched everything up, if only for a few hours, and I'm determined to capture it. There's no telling when it'll be this dark and gloomy again.
Plus working on this picture gives me a good excuse not to stare at Cooper Beaumont, our best friend and sole heir to this beach and the rest of High Point Bluff Plantation. Cooper, whose golden-brown hair turns blond in the sun, and whose eyes switch from blue to green depending on his clothes. The same Cooper who smells like a perfect combination of summer and the sea. That Cooper.
The unrequited, secret love of my fourteen-year-old life.
After a school year away from each other — him at boarding school, me and Jack in Washington, D.C., with our mom — the last thing I need is for him to see me drool over the new, hard edge of his jaw or his etched cheekbones. Yup, that would definitely tip him off to my obsession and ruin the summer before it's even begun.
My heart flutters, so before I have a coronary just thinking about him, I force myself to focus on my sketchbook instead. I've got the waves right — thick and choppy, a deep, murky slate smattered with frothy white caps — but the sky is wrong. I've blended the alabaster, blue, black, and gray to match the platinum clouds, but something's missing. Holding my hand above the pastel tray, I clear my mind and breathe deep, knowing the right color will sing to me, beckon me to pick it up. As my hand passes over the greens, it stops over one in particular, just like always. My fingers tingle above chartreuse, a sickly combination of yellow and green. It's just the tint I need. I pluck it and blend it in.
"Heads up!" Jack calls as he flings his faded orange Frisbee at Cooper.
Glancing around, I see the disc is headed straight for him, but then it suddenly wobbles and dog-legs. Without losing speed, it bends in midair and arches toward me, whipping past my face. A whoosh of wind grazes my skin, and I tuck into a ball, pressing my chest against my sketchbook.
"Hey!" I yell.
Cooper charges up the beach from behind me and snatches the Frisbee as he dives into the wet sand at my feet. "Got it!" He flashes that warm, easy grin of his. Holy hotness. Shivers race over my skin.
I gulp, determined to keep it together. "Thanks."
"No problem." He winks an emerald eye and picks himself up.
Jack rushes up to us, looking guilty. "Sorry, Emma, I wasn't aiming for you, I swear. That old thing is warped."
I peel the sketchbook away from my body. My white peasant blouse is smudged with grayish-blue and pukey yellow-green oil pastels, which probably won't come out in the wash. I sigh. "Maybe next time you should try to hit me. Then it might land in the water."
Cooper tosses the saucer at Jack, smacking him in the gut. "Works fine for me, bro." He laughs, then glances at the roiling sea on my lap. "That's really good."
My cheeks flush. "Thanks. It's not done yet."
"Really?" Jack asks, studying the now smeared image in my sketchbook. "Because it looks pretty awesome to me."
I drill my toes further into the damp sand. "Well, I'm not happy with the sky yet. It doesn't look ..."
I bite my lip and search for the right word. Mad and ill aren't strong enough. I need something that means disgusted, furious, and nauseous all at once. As I concentrate, my feet burrow deeper into the coarse, cold grains.
"Ouch!" I wince and yank my left foot from the sand. Bright red blood streams down the pink skin of my arch. "What the heck?" Crusted with sand, the jagged cut burns.
Cooper kneels next to me and rests a hand on my bare knee. "Are you all right?" Normally his touch would make my heart race, but the pain beats him to it.
Blood trickles onto the sand.
Jack's eyes fill with alarm. "What happened?"
I grit my teeth. "I'm not sure but something cut me." My brow furrows as I bend my leg and peer at the dripping, inch-long wound. "I hope I don't need stitches." With a tentative hand, I probe the cut to see how deep it is, but it's bleeding so much, it's hard to tell. Ruby-colored streaks coat my fingers, and I try to remember whether I should flush out the cut in the Sound or if that will make it worse. "Whatever it was, it was sharp."
"There's only one way to find out." Jack drops to his knees, shoves his hand in the sand at my feet, and digs.
Cooper stretches his lean body and watches Jack. "Careful, bro." He picks up his discarded shirt and, without a thought for the designer brand, blots the blood as it drips toward my toes.
"Give me a hand, Coop." My brother scoops up sand.
"What are you doing?" My voice rises as I pull my other foot out of the beach. "You could get cut, too." I squeeze the wound together to apply pressure and stem the flow.
Jack shrugs. "Don't worry, Em. It'll be fine."
So says the boy who bawls over a splinter. I shouldn't be surprised, though. Jack's always the one to jump into things without thinking. Like digging for an unidentified, dangerous object.
"Hey, look at this."
I lean in, curious to see what attacked me.
Jack uncovers the top of what looks like a wax-covered bottle. The wax is dry and chipped in places, its sharp edges laced with my blood.
A queasy feeling swells in my stomach. I recoil and grimace.
Scraping away the rest of the sand, Jack frees the bottle. Its elongated neck and short, squat body look like the antique wine bottles on display at Cooper's house.
"That's cool," Jack says. Then quickly adds, "The bottle, I mean, not that it cut you."
"Yeah, yeah, I get it." The bleeding has finally slowed. The cut looks superficial, so at least I don't have to find a doctor.
"This must have been here a long time," Cooper says. "The storm probably eroded some sand and helped bring it to the surface."
Jack lifts the bottle to the overcast sky. "Look, there's something in it." A rolled piece of paper is nestled inside.
Cooper digs into his pocket and pulls out his Swiss army knife. "Let's see."
My head spins. Dizzy, I brace against the sand.
Jack grabs the knife from Cooper's hand and slides it around the bottle's neck, slicing through what's left of the crumbling black seal, then chips the wax away. A piece of cork is jammed into the top, but the knife's screw easily removes it. He fishes out the thick, yellow paper and tosses the bottle onto the beach. Then he unrolls the parchment and scans it. "Dang," he mutters.
Cooper reads over his shoulder.
Uneasiness crawls up my spine. Maybe it's a delayed reaction to the cut and all the blood, but I think I'm about to hurl.
"What does it say?" I ask, heaving a deep breath.
"See for yourself." Jack hands the letter over. Shaky, old-timey handwriting and scattered ink drops cover the page.
I squint to make out what it says.
St. Helena Island, Carolina Colony, anchored off High Point Bluff Plantation, April 1725
To ye who may find this bottle and the urgent missive it contains,
I, Bloody Bill Ransom, Captain of the vessel The Dagger, humbly request your most capable assistance. An old Gullah hag harnessed the wind and water to curse my ship and crew for plundering a flower, causing us grievous suffering. This abominable curse, The Creep, has taken half my sailors in the most heinous and gruesome manner and without your aid will surely ravage those who remain, leaving behind only a sorry bundle of dry bones to drift with the wind. We beg your assistance in removing the curse and will pay you richly, as soon as we are well enough to retrieve our treasure stolen by Edmund Beaumont, the Master of High Point Bluff Plantation. On my honour as a gentleman and an honest privateer, I pledge to share one half of the recovered treasure with anyone who responds to this plea and grants our fervent request.
Your most humble servant,
Bloody Bill Ransom
Captain, The Dagger
My stomach drops, and the hair on the back of my neck bristles. Shaking my head, I look at the guys. Before I can even process my reaction to the letter, a flash of color catches my eye and distracts me from the ancient parchment. Against the gunmetal sky, a figure in a crimson dress and straw hat approaches.
"Who's that?" I nod in her direction.
Jack's head snaps around. "No idea. I didn't think the locals ever came up to High Point Bluff." He jumps to his feet and turns toward the girl.
"Hey," Cooper calls to her and stands, but I stay put on the sand, squeezing my injured foot.
She tosses us a wave as her long, lean features come into focus. She removes her hat and shakes out her tumbling ebony waves.
Somehow I manage not to gasp. The air quiets, and time slows as I take in each of her exquisite features. My vision tunnels, focusing on her smooth, brown skin, petal-pink lips, and coal-black eyes, as my mind struggles to assemble them into one perfect human face. Even the six tiny silver ringlets that line the curve of her left ear are beautiful. She's about our age, but she's unlike anyone I've ever seen before in real life.
Jack must be thinking the same thing because his jaw hangs open for a second before he manages to speak.
"Hi." His voice is soft and breathy as he brushes his dark hair out of his eyes.
"Hello." She tilts her head as if she's waiting for him to say something else. Her flowery perfume fills the air. Sweet and cloying, it tickles my nose.
Jack stares, his baby blues vacant, so I help him out. "I'm Emma Guthrie." I flick my thumb at him. "He's my brother, Jack."
Without even a glance in my direction, she grasps his hand. "Hello, Jack Guthrie. I'm Magnolia Akan." Her accent is a weird cross between British, South Carolina Lowcountry, and Jamaican.
Jack's brows rise in a mixture of rapture and disbelief. His lips move, but no sound emerges. I'm just wondering why she is using his full name.
She smiles at him and nods toward Cooper. "Who is your friend?"
"C-C-Cooper. Cooper Beaumont," Jack manages.
Her smile slips as she gives Cooper the once-over while keeping a firm grip on Jack. "May I ask when you'll come of age, Cooper Beaumont?"
"Huh?" he asks.
She looks up and off to the right, as if she's searching for a word. "When will you come into your manhood?"
Cooper chuckles. "Um, I'm not sure what you're asking, but I turn sixteen next month, at the end of July."
She grins and extends her free hand toward Cooper. Except it's not like a regular handshake. Instead, she holds her hand out flat like a princess and grasps his fingers when he reaches to touch her.
Jack snaps out of his daze and frowns at Cooper. "Emma and I will be fifteen soon."
Um, only if he thinks four months is "soon." Which it's not.
Slipping her hand out of Cooper's grasp, Magnolia finally acknowledges my presence and wags an elegant finger between Jack and me. "You two are the same age. How can that be?"
"We're twins," I answer, anticipating the inevitable explanation to come.
Her lips twist into an over-sweet smile. "But you don't look the same."
I resist rolling my eyes at her revelation that my strawberry-blonde hair and Irish-pink skin are different from Jack's jet-black mane and olive complexion. As if we hadn't realized it ourselves or heard it a million times. Yes, we're twins who don't look alike. We've noticed. But we're fraternal, so it's not that big a deal.
Jack laughs. "Yeah, no one ever believes us, Maggie — you don't mind if I call you that, do you?"
She arches her brow but smiles and shakes her head.
He grins. "Oh, good, because I'm kind of a nicknamer. Plus I'm not really down with calling you the name of the Mississippi state tree. Don't ask me how I know that. It's just one of those things I learned in school, I guess." He squeezes his eyes shut and tries to shake off whatever's making him babble like an idiot. "Anyway, no one ever believes we're twins because I look like our dad, and she takes after our mom. Thanks to my dad's genes, I never burn in the summer, but she's a total French fry."
Maggie giggles, probably because Jack is acting like such a dork. "That is excellent. It is good to have family. Very good, indeed." She squeezes his hand.
Why is she still holding his hand? I mean, it's not that Jack is hideous — he's actually pretty decent looking — but let's face it, he's no Cooper. Not that I'm suggesting she should switch her attention. I don't need to compete with a supermodel.
"So, Maggie, are you from here?" I try to sound casual. "I haven't seen you around any of our summers on the island."
She nods, slow and easy, brushing her bare toes over the sand. "Sa'leenuh is my home." She uses the local Gullah term for the island. Unlike a lot of the other Sea Islands, St. Helena still has a large Gullah population, the descendents of enslaved Africans who grew cotton and indigo for their masters.
I'm confused. She doesn't sound like any local I've ever met.
Cooper rubs his chin. "Hmm, Akan. I don't recall anyone with that last name on St. Helena."
She narrows her gaze at him. "Small as it is, I doubt you've met everyone on this island."
She finally notices the scarlet smears on my hand and foot. For just a moment, she goes still and pale. "You are injured, Emma Guthrie. You should cleanse that in the water."
"I was going to, but —"
Jack cuts me off. "We found this cool letter in a bottle." He wriggles free of her grasp, bends down, and takes the letter from my hand. "It's about a treasure right here at High Point Bluff." He thrusts it under Maggie's nose.
Itchy unease creeps up my scalp.
Giving the yellow paper a cursory peek, she bats her eyes. "That sounds exciting."
"Well, even if it's real, it was written a long time ago," Cooper says. "Any treasure is probably long gone by now."
The chill spreads down my arms and spine, prickling my skin. "But it's not just about a treasure."
Ignoring me, Maggie strokes Jack's shoulder. "There are many strange and unknown things in the Lowcountry. Who is to say a treasure couldn't exist?"
Cooper shakes his head. "I don't know. It seems like a story this good would have been passed down through my family."
Jack persists. "But don't you see? If you've never heard about it, maybe it was hidden."
"Perhaps it is lying under this very ground." Maggie flashes doe eyes at Jack. "You'll never know if you don't search." She slips her hand back into his and entwines their fingers.
The tingling intensifies, and my heart races. What is wrong with them? "Um, am I the only one who noticed most of the letter is about a curse?" My chest is tight, making it hard to speak.
Jack scoffs. "Please, Emma, there's no such thing. People were just superstitious back then."
My stomach clenches. "But what about the bone thing? It says it's gruesome."
Jack looks at me like I've lost my mind. "Seriously? They probably had scurvy or something."
Crossing my arms, I glare at him. "Uh, they were pirates. I think they'd know the difference between scurvy and whatever this was — what did he call it?" I hobble to my feet, and Cooper rushes to help me. Leaning on his arm, I look at the letter in Jack's hand. "The Creep. That doesn't sound like scurvy to me." Another chill rushes through me.
"Give me a break. Why would anyone get cursed for stealing a flower?" Jack waves me off and turns to Cooper. "What do you think, Coop?"
Cooper scratches his temple with his free hand. "Honestly, I don't know. This area is full of stories that sound crazy but are based on a little bit of truth. I don't know what The Creep was, but Emma's probably right."
Maggie shrugs. "Perhaps. Perhaps not. But a treasure might be enough of a reward to try."
"I say we do it." Jack holds his free palm up for a high-five, but Maggie's lids stretch in surprise, and she leaves him hanging. He chuckles and shrugs it off, drops his hand, and turns to Cooper. "Come on, what do you say? It'll give us something to do besides sit on the boat. Plus it could be fun. We'll start by poking around the Big House."
Cooper takes the letter and reads it again. When his lips curl into a half- grin, I know he's decided to give in to Jack and this ridiculous idea. "I guess there's no harm in taking a look. But we should start at the ruins instead," he says, referring to the remains of the original plantation house. "This letter was written before the first Big House burned down. In a hurricane, I think."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Conjure"
Copyright © 2012 Lea Nolan.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Conjure is a unique read that you won't want to miss. I'll admit the characters are a bit young for my tastes, but the leading character was not annoying. I still enjoyed this book immensely. The characters were well-developed and progressed along with the story, the plot was intriguing, and the pacing was perfect. This book will suck you in. Emma was a terrific leading character. The book was told from first person POV, and I never got tired of hearing from Emma. She wa brave and selfless and everything a leading lady should be. I really enjoyed watching her grow over the course of the novel. Her twin Jack, however, was a jerk. I really didn't like him very much. He was extremely bratty and what I was afraid Emma would be like (with them both being 14). While Emma pleasantly surprised me, Jack pretty much fit the bill of what I expected. Luckily the book wasn't told from his POV. Cooper was a bit of a goody goody, if you ask me, but he was a decent guy. His "goodness" just got on my nerves. I know he will appeal to a lot of readers, though. The other two supporting characters, Maggie and Miss Delia, were also intriguing, and I enjoyed reading about them. The plot was unique, and I liked the gritty details Nolan included about the Voodoo religion. I was kept guessing throughout the story, and I never got bored. The pacing was perfect, and the ending left me wanting more. There was action, adventure, and secret love. What else could a person want? Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something new in the YA genre, but doesn't mind younger leading characters. I'd say most YA readers will enjoy this one.
Could not put it down
Reviewed by Valerie Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book For anyone familiar with South Carolina’s Lowcountry, this paranormal book will be a treat. While I wasn’t familiar with the setting of the story, nor the hoodoo magic, there was plenty of background information provided and rich details to the point that I felt that I was there. Out of the three main characters, Emma was the most interesting heroine who had a lot thrown at her right from the beginning. She shouldered the responsibility throughout the story and tried to save her twin brother’s life with the help of their summer friend, Cooper. As a female heroine, she very rarely felt sorry for herself and constantly had others in mind which I admired. The tidbits of romance between her and Cooper were nice and sweet for their ages. The twin brother, Jack, wasn’t a character I really connected with. He was an integral part of the story and was in several important scenes but I just never felt anything for him besides sympathy. Cooper was a character I really enjoyed. He always helped Emma and had her back regardless of what was happening. As they moved from friendship to romance, he was sweet and thoughtful. Besides the little glitch that he’ll turn into a jerk when he turns sixteen, he was perfect. The only change I’d like to see to this story is that the beginning didn’t give much back story to the three characters and their history. The plot of the story started right at the beginning with a bang but without much to support it. While what was happening was intriguing, I hadn’t yet made a connection with the characters. I’ll be looking forward to book two from this series!
'Conjure' is the first book in a young adult fantasy/paranormal series that follows teenage main character Emma Guthrie along with her twin brother Jack and their best friend (and her secret crush) Cooper Beaumont, are convinced that this summer is going to be like all the others. They were wrong. The three of them find an old bottle in the sand with a letter inside warning about a curse and speaking of a hidden treasure on the Beaumont estate. Emma and the guys decide to try to find the treasure and are astonished when they succeed. That is, until they unleash an ancient curse that gives Jack the flesh-eating Creep and threatens to steal Cooper's very soul on his sixteenth birthday. With everything unraveling around her along with the appearance of a mysterious girl who is determined to get revenge, demon dogs, and her brother and Cooper's lives in the balance - Emma has no other option than to learn hoodoo magic in order to break the curse and save everyone she loves. I was immediately intrigued by the description of the book - curses, hoodoo magic, hidden treasure, revenge - it sounded like something I'd definitely like. Gladly, the book lived up to any expectations I had and then some. The story was fantastic - it had lots going on without overwhelming or confusing the reader. I loved reading everything I could about the ancient Gullah curse and the culture along with the hoodoo magic. I found it really fascinating and I'm looking forward to reading about it more in the next book. The characters were well written, especially the three main characters of Emma, Jack, and Cooper. They each have their own quirks along with strengths and weaknesses - but they band together to finish what they started and set things right. There's a great blend of genres in the book - action, fantasy, adventure, paranormal aspects, some mystery, and romance - so there's definitely an appeal to fans of all types of fiction. I thought that the plot and the writing was well done with an easy flow and natural progression. I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series to see what will happen next. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Reviewed by Janessa, Age 15 What a spellbinding and unique story Lea Nolan has spun in this darkly adventurous book about a summer gone awry. I was hooked from page one and couldn’t put down the book. Definitely can’t wait for the next book in this series! “Child, I’m an old woman, and this is an evil curse. I don’t have the strength to fight it.” Emma and Jake are teen twins spending the summer with their dad on St. Helena Island, where he is the caretaker. Emma spends her time basking in the shadow of her very popular brother and his best friend Cooper, whom Emma just happens to have the major hots for. What Emma, Jake, and Cooper think will be just another typical summer quickly turns into a matter of life and death as the three find an old message in a bottle from a pirate saying they have been cursed and the person to find them the cure will get all their treasure buried on St. Helena Island. Deciding to seek this treasure, they uncover something odd in the ruins of the original homestead, and from there, the story takes a wickedly dark turn including a strange girl, a Gulla healer who eventually makes Emma her apprentice, devil dogs, and a deadly curse that needs to be broken before Jack turns into a real skeleton. Is Emma up for the task? *This book was provided in exchange for an honest review* *You can view the original review at Musing with Crayolakym and San Francisco & Sacramento City Book Review
Conjure wasn’t exactly the page turner I expected from other reviews and cover blurbs, especially at the beginning. It was slow to develop. I was waiting for things to happen, things to be explained. But once everything finally fell together, I was complete captivated by the story. I have to give the author, Lea Nolan, some extra props. Just reading Conjure reveals how much research she put into the magic of hoodoo. The detail of hoodoo and spells brought realism to the novel. I felt a part of the experience, sitting in the kitchen with Emma and Miss Delia. And the curses are just so intense! And gross! OMG! Blisters, boils, melting flesh – Ew! Jack, Emma, and Cooper were also awesome. Individually, I would say Cooper was my favorite. He was just so sweet and gentle. Okay, sometimes he’s a little bit of a wuss, but I still loved him. Jack… Jack was hilarious at times, but there were others where I wanted to slap him upside the head. And as for Emma, I’d have to say she was pretty cool. However, it’s really the team that makes the story. Their friendship gives them strength, and through each other, they learn and grow amazing leaps. All in all, I can’t wait to read the next book. No! Honestly! I really can’t! Can someone like send me an ARC or something? The one curse I’m waiting to see broken is still hanging in the air, and I dying to know what’s coming next.
I loved this book and not just because the main characters last name is my maiden name! Come along and feel the sand in your toes as Emma, Jack and Coop embark on an adventure that tests everything they are and all they know about each other as well! Ms. Nolan does a fabulous job of taking us into the world of the "gullah" and their wonderous hoodoo practices. Rich images, endearing characters and low country lore = one great story! Can't wait for the next one!
There are always books that will grab you from that initial read of the blurb, and Conjure by Lea Nolan was one of them. I’m a Southern gal who happens to love YA and Fantasy, so this seemed like the perfect book to review for my debut on this site, and I wasn’t disappointed to find that while there were a couple of things that left me with some mixed feelings at the end, this was a highly enjoyable read. Be careful what you search for… 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. But when a strange girl bent on revenge appears, 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 the last days of summer—and her friends–are lost forever. While I grew up moving from place to place thanks to the Navy, the South is always where I considered home, so it was very easy for me to drop everything and get pulled into the world that Lea Nolan has built in the South Carolina Lowcountry with Conjure. The way that she introduced the lifestyle and environment that is unique to this area was realistic and easy, using Emma and Jack as part-timers to introduce concepts that aren’t always obvious to folks that haven’t lived in the land of Gullah and Hoodoo. Let me also say that I’m a sucker for treating hoodoo as a just-a-step-away from reality use of magic, as it’s so much easier to ingest into a fantasy world sometimes than the magicians versus the rest of the world, and Lea Nolan found that balance. Having not only Emma receive her education in both the magic of the ancestors and the magic of natural medicine from Miss Delia was a fabulous way to not only get the reader invested in the fantasy but also treating hoodoo with a bit of respect. Caring for Emma and Cooper and their blossoming crush-to-relationship was easy as well. That first all-encompassing crush is something that can sometimes border on the extreme, and I think that she handles the characters with such love and care that you really are invested in Emma not getting her heart broken by her first crush. Cooper is just such a sweetheart you can see exactly why Emma fell for him in the first place. Jack, her brother, on the other hand… oh, that boy. I did have a bit of a hard time caring that he had been cursed with the Creep. I would have loved to have seen just a bit more of his real personality before getting hit with the whammy for me to actually want for him to be cured. Emma and Cooper both let his boorish behavior go on a bit too long for my taste, but at least they acknowledge that his personality has been altered. I hope that with the next book we get a bit more of how Jack really is to make me feel a bit more sympathy for him. I can let my issues with Jack go, though, simply because I really loved this story. It truly pulled me into the world, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.
Before Conjure came out I was lucky enough to be a part of the cover reveal. The cover was gorgeous but more on that later. Now is the time when a lot of YA mistake/misrepresent strong heroines for/as hard-headed and stubborn I was leery of reading a novel from a new author. It is always a bit like Russian roulette. I loved Emmaline (LINE not keen or Lynn). She was such a realistic character. Young but already a glimmer of the person she will grow into. That person will make mistakes but is more times than not, awesome. Emma has a twin brother who I wanted to kill and their best friend, Cooper. Oh what can I say about Cooper that won't have me gushing? Nothing because the boy is all a YA swoon worthy guy should be. Hot, maturing and only has eyes for Emma. I loved them. Whenever they were together even just hanging out I would squeal. Their chemistry was just hop off the page sparks. I was originally concerned about their young age. I may have groaned when I read how very young they were. I was like how can this be entertaining, and appropriate? I'm going to be bored to tears! I was not! I was enthralled and entangled (Heehee.) The age worked for the story and adds more sweet innocents and was kept very appropriate for their age and younger readers while still keeping us young at hearts on the edge of our seats. One to the plot. This plot was very interesting and unique. It is like nothing I ever read but can't figure why nobody thought of this genius plot this far. There is a message in a bottle (though never explained why the message was put there.) There was treasure, hoodoo and a wicked curse or two. If that doesn't get you then let me continue. It is summertime, the time of year when Emma and her twin Jack come down to visit their dad on a Gullah island of the coast of North Carolina. It is also the time of year when Cooper comes home and they can all hang out. This year Emma is harboring a raging crush on Cooper and you will quickly get why. Jack gets them into deep crude and his actions forces Emma to delve deep into the world of Gullah magic. In this strange, odd, scary and magical new world of Emma's she learns some big century long family secrets. The end is satisfying but will have you lying awake for weeks after wondering...what's going to happen to this kids next.
Conjure is the first book in The Hoodoo Apprentice series by Lea Nolan. This is a very adventurous book told from Emma's point of view. Her, and her twin brother Jack, are staying with their dad in South Carolina for the summer. Their friend Cooper lives here, and together the 3 of them find an ancient bottle that leads to horrendous curses. Emma must learn hoodoo magic to save her brother's life, and the soul of Cooper – her crush. When I started reading this book, I'll admit that I had some reservations. I realized that Emma and her brother are only 14. While I enjoy young adult books, I'm used to the characters being a little older. Honestly, you wouldn't know they were so young. Well, Jack has some issues, but Emma is very brave and mature. She shows a lot of determination and courage that most 14 year-olds wouldn't have in the awful circumstances these 3 find themselves in. She is a very likable character that many girls can look up to. Jack acts like a jerk and a baby sometimes, but he has a flesh eating curse so I would probably be whiney too. Cooper is a good guy. He is the rich, drop dead sexy type – but he is also a goodie two-shoes. Those types don't usually mix in books so I thought he was an interesting character. I really liked him. The plot was well developed and unique. You can tell the author did a lot of work researching hoodoo magic and the Gullah culture. I really enjoyed reading about Miss Delia and seeing her take Emma under her wing. The glimpses into the past, when the curse was first set, was particularly interesting. The book was very well written. There was even a little bit of romance in this book. The romance definitely didn't lead the storyline though. I normally like a little more romance with my books, but I still enjoyed this one. It was very exciting and fast paced. There wasn't a large cliffhanger at the end, but there were enough loose ends to make you anxious to read the next. I think that anyone who enjoys young adult paranormal books will really enjoy this one.