INCANTATION by Alice Hoffman


Age Range: 12 - 14
Email this review


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-fé 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)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-316-01019-7
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2006


ChildrenNIGHTBIRD by Alice Hoffman
by Alice Hoffman
ChildrenGREEN WITCH by Alice Hoffman
by Alice Hoffman
ChildrenTHE FORETELLING by Alice Hoffman
by Alice Hoffman


IndieEVA'S SECRET by Emily Cotton
by Emily Cotton
IndieHidden Star by Corinne Joy Brown
by Corinne Joy Brown
IndieAT VITORIA by Marcia Riman  Selz
by Marcia Riman Selz