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Mojo: Conjure Stories Paperback – April 1, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Many Americans know "mojo" is Southern slang for powerful magic. But few Americans know the word originated in West Africa and referred to a small cloth bag containing protective magicks. The origin of mojo is as obscure to Americans as the religious, spiritual, and magical beliefs of Africa, which are far less familiar than the religions and myths of Europe and Asia. Acclaimed author/editor Nalo Hopkinson addresses this imbalance with her anthology Mojo: Conjure Stories, which collects 19 original stories of magic and gods and mortals, set in locales that range from a pre-Civil War plantation to modern Oakland, from Nineteenth-Century England to underground New York City.

Contributors range from big names like Steven Barnes, Neil Gaiman, and Barbara Hambly to exciting new authors (however, editor Hopkinson unfortunately does not contribute a story). The anthology avoids such inaccurate, offensive Hollywood stereotypes as the pin-stuck "voodoo doll," and the overall quality is very high, with a few weak tales offset by the far more numerous excellent stories. Among the best works are Sheree Renee Thomas's poetic myth "How Sukie Cross De Big Wata"; Marcia Douglas's lyrical "Notes from a Writer's Book of Cures and Spells," the best story about the writing process since Jaime Hernandez's "How to Kill A" (Love & Rockets); and "The Tawny Bitch," Nisi Shawl's classically gothic tale of a wealthy, quadroon British heiress held captive by a greedy, lustful relative.

The anthology opens with a brief but informative editor's note from Nalo Hopkinson and an evocative introduction by Luisah Teish, priestess of the Ifa/Orisha tradition and author of several books, including the spiritual classic Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals. --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

The 19 stories in this all-original anthology, edited by the author of Skin Folk, skillfully blend West African magic, fantasy and horror, along with plain old-fashioned readability. Some deal with familiar aspects of that magic in unfamiliar ways, such as the zombies of Steven Barnes's "Heartspace" and Neil Gaiman's "Bitter Grounds." Others explore social issues, like Tananarive Due's disturbing "Trial Day," which highlights injustice against African-Americans during the 1920s. "The Prowl" (Gregory Frost), "The Horsemen and the Morning Star" (Barbara Hambly) and "How Sukie Cross de Big Wata" (Sheree Renée Thomas) offer grim views of slavery days. Marcia Douglas's somewhat tongue-in-cheek "Notes from a Writer's Book of Cures and Spells" amuses more than it unsettles. A.M. Dellamonica applies magic to food in "Cooking Creole," while Barth Anderson's "Lark till Dawn, Princess" takes place on the drag queen circuit with an assist from a magical Elvis impersonator. Since some authors develop their themes or handle dialect better than others, the mojo level varies from story to story. Luisah Teish (Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals) provides an introduction.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446679291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446679299
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mocha Girl VINE VOICE on May 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
The introduction of Mojo: Conjure Stories warns the reader to beware, to adorn their protective beads, to pocket their jujubags and sets the stage for the mystical anthology contained therein. The novel, edited by Nalo Hopkinson, is comprised of nineteen short stories from noteworthy authors such as Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, and Barbara Hambly. All tales are colorful, creative, and rooted in "mojo" - a tricky, powerful, and dangerous magic with a West African flavor.
This is a diverse collection in that it traverses time to provide stories from the slave ships, the antebellum South, the Jim Crow era, the 1960's and even present day. Some stories are rooted in folklore, e.g. Andy Duncan's "Daddy Mention and the Monday Skull", while others address moral and societal issues such as incest, revenge, love, lust, and greed. One of my favorites is Barbara Hambly's "The Horsemen and The Morning Star" in which plantation slaves garner strength and call upon their ancestor's gods to ride their weary backs to fight the master's resurrection of the devil to save one of their own. Jarla Tangh's "The Skinned" references the recent Rowandan tragedy and delivers a powerful message against the backdrop of the modern American inner city. Another noteworthy mention is Jenise Aminoff's "Fate" in which a mother with the gift of sight tries desperately to alter her son's destiny and pays a high price in the end.
This reviewer found some stories a bit more challenging to follow than others, but believes there is enough variety in subject matter and writing style to satisfy even the most critical reader.
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Format: Paperback
I read Nalo Hopkinson's first novel, Brown in the Ring a while ago and have been a fan ever since. I like the way she reinvents Afro-Caribbean rhythms and traditions to her storytelling, especially in her short stories, but her anthology is good, too. There are wild stories in here that made me rethink my stance on 'mojo' and conjure. There are too many good stories to name, and I'm still reading, but I really like the Neil Gaiman story, the "Fate" story by Jenise Aminoff, Nisi Shawl's "Tawny B---," Marcia Douglas, and Sheree Renee Thomas. The only thing missing so far is a story from Nalo herself. Maybe next time!
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I love exploring different mythologies, and this anthology of fantasy stories provides a good fictional introduction to those growing out of the West African cultures from which many of the New World’s slaves were taken. Stories such as Barbara Hambly’s “The Horsemen and the Morning Star” and Eliot Fintushel’s “White Man’s Trick” also show how the unimaginably painful experience of slavery reshaped and added to those beliefs. Narrators/main characters of the stories range from children to old men, and settings include both Africa and the Americas, though the latter predominate. Not surprisingly, many of the stories are rather grim, though a few, such as Andy Duncan’s “Daddy Mention and the Monday Skull” add a welcome note of humor. As is almost unavoidable in short stories, most of the characters are not as developed or memorable as they might be in novels; the best, to my mind, are those in Hambly’s relatively long story (she is also the author of the excellent Benjamin January mystery series, set, like this story, in slavery-era Louisiana) and the little girl in Kiini Ibura Salaam’s “Rosamojo,” who gets a well-earned revenge for her incest-rape.
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Format: Paperback
Okay, everyone has heard it before about wicca, voodo, satanic rituals, all of that. Juju is the type of magic that takes very experienced people to do, and unlike most spell magic, like wicca's three fold rule (every spell you commit will come back to you 3times) Juju however has spells where you dont have to worry about coming back at ya. This book has sum excellent, chillin stories and makes you get goosbumps. Especially the story called "The Skinned" by Jarla Tangh, i see she is one worth watching her descriptions, use of worlds, and over all theme (won't spoil it, gotta read it to "feel" it) puts the reader in such a state to understand, and also get slightly jumpy at that. I tried seeing if Jarla wrote other novels, but i believe that this is her first publication, but from the story among the others, i can expect a awesome future nover coming from her. This is a great book if you are curious about Juju folklore, exploring the possibilty of praticing it or just learning, and if you want a good scary bone chilling story, please read I promise,you won't be disappointed.
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Hopkins tastefully begins this consortium of tales by defining and distinguishing between religion and magic. She explains that "religion is an institutionalized system of spiritual beliefs...magic is the practice of altering the fated progression of events to suit one's desires." She then reminds us that magic is dangerous, and the ensuing stories support her statement.
From the Plateye, mischievous ghost who roam the earth changing shape and identity for deadly self-serving purposes, to the mysterious Udu pots that preserve, and don't forget Uncle Monday who steals souls...or Anansi, a trickster god disguised as an eight legged, wrinkled face spider, these conjured anomalies float through the pages of Mojo to form exquisite stories of characters performing self-serving magic. This anthology mixes modern fantasy with magic folklore and voodoo curses, the result being eerie and mysterious tales that spread your imagination and prickle the back of your neck.
Hopkins assembled an impressive reticulation of great writers. Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Barbara Hambly, and Marcia Douglas are just a few of the talented contributors. Barth Anderson's "Lark Till Dawn Princess" was the most intriguing to me. It was more mystery than mojo, and told of singing & performances in the alternative drag queen world. You'll love the point of view. Gregory Frost's "The Prowl" was among the cleverest because it is an explosive snatch of black history spun on vengeance. Denise Aminoff had the most daring and disturbing story. It reminded me of an early episode of the X-files.
If you enjoy the unknown, the far-reaching, and don't mind stretching beyond the familiar parameters of belief, you'll enjoy these conjure stories.
Reviewed by KaTrina Love (MissLove)
The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
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