Author: Eden Royce
Published June 27th, 2023 by Walden Pond Press
Summary: If you ask Delphinia Baker, she’d tell you she has all the family she needs. Sure, her mom passed away when she was young, her dad is often away on deployment, and she’s had to move so much that she’s never had close friends. But even though Del has never had anyone she can call her people, she has always had her grandmother—and for Del and Gramma, best friends since forever, that’s enough. Besides, having no roots just makes it that much easier when you have to move again.
All of that changes, though, when Gramma falls ill and Del is sent to stay with her great-grandmother. Del has never even heard of Nana Rose, and she has no interest in spending the summer with a stranger on an unbearably hot island off the South Carolina coast. And when Nana Rose starts talking about the school she runs dedicated to their family’s traditions—something called “conjure magic”—Del knows she’s in for a weird, awkward summer.
That is, until the magic turns out to be real.
Soon, Del is surrounded by teachers who call themselves witches, kids with strange abilities, creatures and ghosts who can speak to her. She has a hundred questions, but one more than any other: Why didn’t Gramma ever tell her about her family, the island, this magic? As Del sets out to find answers and to find her place in a world she never knew existed, she also discovers a shadowy presence on the island—and comes to believe that it all might be connected.
Eden Royce, the acclaimed author of Root Magic, returns to the folklore of Gullah Geechee culture to weave an enchanting tale of magic, mystery, and belonging.
About the Author: Eden Royce is a writer from Charleston, SC, now living in the Garden of England. She is a Shirley Jackson Award finalist for her short fiction for adults. Her debut novel, Root Magic, was a Walter Dean Myers Award Honoree, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award winner, and a Nebula Award Finalist for outstanding children’s literature. Find her online at edenroyce.com.
Review: I just loved this book. Everything about it: the characters, the academy, the magic, the history.
First, Del is a ball of light. Royce does a phenomenal job making Del a whole and complete person who feels all of the feels and just embodies all of the emotions of a person of her age.
Second, our main secondary characters are just such great support and are fleshed out so well. Every character is full of heart and flaws and spirit (sometimes they ARE a spirit).
Third, the academy and the magic. Royce sure knows how to build a world and pull the reader into it. This academy is first full of magic but is also full of history and culture and community. And the conjure Royce introduced is very detailed and unique to other magics found in books.
And these are just three things I loved within the book; I could keep going. Fantasy readers, specifically magical school fans, are going to adore this new book (series???).
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation & Discussion Questions:
Flagged Passages: One of the triplets spoke up. “If we can’t do things the same ways they did back then, why bother learning about them?”
“Good question, Taye,” the sorcell replied. How could he tell them apart? Del wondered. “Three reasons. First, if you don’t learn the origins of magic, you will strip away our people’s influence. Our people created this magic, and we should remember that. Those who are only interested in conjure because they think it’s new or fun or cool will learn only the piece of it they like. Remember, this is an old magic born of community, and of the need to protect themselves, educate our people, and survive in a harsh world.”
“Hey, that’s the motto!” said a boy on the other side of Fino, whose name she hadn’t caught at breakfast.
“So it is, Jerome,” Sorcell Harus said. “That is why we display it so prominently. Second: We aren’t perfect. Learning ancient ways doesn’t just mean learning about our ancestors’ successes–it also means learning about their mistakes. Which will help you avoid repeating them. We all want to avoid that, don’t we?”
Murmurs of agreement from the class, including Del.
“And third, learning your history helps you learn about yourself…” (Chapter 11)
Make sure to visit the rest of the blog tour!
June 27 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub
June 27 Unleashing Readers @unleashreaders
June 27 Helping Kids Rise @helpingkidsrise
June 28 Charlotte’s Library @charlotteslibrary
June 28 StoryMamas @storymamas
June 29 LitCoachLou @litcoachlou
June 29 A Library Mama @librarymama
June 29 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read
**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing a copy for review!!**