I’d like to recommend a book today which falls firmly into the “fiction” category, but which has an amazing amount of conjure-related material in it. It’s called Mojo: Conjure Stories, and is edited by Nalo Hopkinson. I say “edited by” because this is a collection of short stories, and every one revolves around some deep South magical topic. Some are okay, some are quite good, and many are superb. The book features authors like science-fiction maven Barbara Hambly, African-American author devorah major, and dark fantasy genius Neil Gaiman.
Here are just a sampling of the stories in this excellent tome:
“Daddy Mention and the Monday Skull” by Andy Duncan – An aged convict contacts an alligator swamp spirit in order to get a beautiful singing voice (and consequently a chance at freedom), but winds up biting off a good deal more than he can chew.
“Heartspace” by Steven Barnes – A man goes to visit his estranged and dying father, only to walk into the middle of a conflict between his fiery half-sister and his father’s new wife—a Gullah woman with some powerful tricks up her sleeve.
“The Skinned” by Jarla Tangh – An old man who knows the secret behind the terrifying monsters lurking in his neighborhood decides he will confront the beasts, only to endanger his very soul in doing so.
“Death’s Dreadlocks,” by Tobias S. Buckell – The children of an African village caught in the crossfire of several warlords turn to Old Ma, who teaches them to see the ropy strands of Death’s hair all around them and avoid fatality. The children decide to follow the hair back to its source and put an end to Death once and for all.
“The Horsemen and the Morning Star” by Barbara Hambly – The Old Gods from across the sea ride their “horses” (slave devotees) in order to battle a plantation owner and his sorcerous friend, who are conjuring up their own forces—Satan himself—using the slave children as sacrifices to do so.
“Cooking Creole” by A. M. Dellamonica – A man who’s tried his hand at gambling, guitar playing, and other “gifted” talents decides to go to the crossroads one last time. He thinks he’s finally found his calling: he wants to learn to be a Cajun cook. But he doesn’t know just what this cooking school will cost him.
“Shining through 24/7” by devorah major – This strange tale revolves around a woman who tries to steal from a hoodoo woman. A hoodoo woman who happens to live near a chemical storage facility. A radioactive chemical storage facility. A strange but delightful story.
And these are only about half of the wonderful tales collected in this book. I picked it up out of my local library and loved it. If you have any interest in Southern folk magic, African-American religious practices, fairy tales and fantasy, or just plain old good storytelling, I highly recommend getting this book.
Thanks for reading!