Hoodoo

Hoodoo is by Ronald Smith. In 1930s Alabama, twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher is the only member of his family who seems unable to practice folk magic, but when a mysterious man called the Stranger puts the entire town at risk from his black magic, Hoodoo must learn to conjure to defeat him.

Grades 4-7 Smith’s debut novel introduces readers to Hoodoo , a 12-year-old African American boy living in Alabama in the 1930s. Hoodoo  got his name because of the heart-shaped birthmark under his eye, believed to be a mark of his family’s talent at folk magic. Unfortunately, Hoodoo  is incapable of casting a spell. But that doesn’t stop him from being drawn into the supernatural world of talking crows, traveling souls, and the Stranger, who comes into town looking for him specifically. He learns that the Stranger’s interest has to do with an inextricable link between Hoodoo  and his late father, a link that extends beyond his father’s grave. Hoodoo ’s first-person narrative, which flows beautifully, has an appealing natural cadence, punctuated with the tagline “if you didn’t know” whenever he describes something that might be unfamiliar to the reader. Through his protagonist, Smith demonstrates an eye for detail and a knack for evocative imagery as well as for telling a riveting story with a dollop of southern gothic appeal. — Scanlon, Donna (Reviewed 07-01-2015) (Booklist, vol 111, number 21, p73)