HOODOO by Ronald L. Smith


Age Range: 9 - 12
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A sinister stranger stalks young Hoodoo Hatcher in rural 1930s Alabama.

Hoodoo has already lived a life shadowed by tragedy; his mother died at his birth, and his father, a “powerful mojo man,” left town and “came to a bad end.” Hoodoo, despite his name, has never been able to practice folk magick like much of the rest of his family. And his name has made him the butt of jokes at school. Living with his grandmother, Mama Frances, in a tiny town has never been too exciting until a carnival fortuneteller’s dark predictions force Hoodoo to investigate his family’s past and the ways of hoodoo in order to save himself and his remaining family from a demon stranger. What does the stranger want? And can Hoodoo prevail when it seems the people he cares about most are keeping things from him? Smith’s debut is an engaging, creepy mystery that doesn’t shy away from the harshness of its Jim Crow setting but that doesn’t dwell on it either—the Hatchers’ community is largely independent of the white world, and Hoodoo’s quest and developing abilities unfold believably within it. Repetition of several phrases and thoughts mar this otherwise fine first-person tale. However, the authenticity of Hoodoo’s voice and this distinctive mashup of genres make Smith one to watch.

Seekers of the scary and “something different” need look no further. (Horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-544-44525-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: HMH Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2015


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