Book: The Juju Girl
Author: Nikki Marsh
Genre: Teens and Young Adult (13+), Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
Review Copy: Reedsy.com
This week, I was on a fascinating journey in New Orleans of the 19th century, with a Creole girl and her Gift. The coming-of-age story of 15-year-old Gabrielle starts from a devastating flood in her hometown of Buras and ends in a New Orleans home. A journey but filled with magic and hauntings, spells and conjuring, sadness and misgivings. The breezy storyline has much to offer and flows meticulously and swiftly from one chapter to the next, building up curiosity as esoteric elements emerge in the life of the young girl.
The narrative creates vivid pictures of an age gone by, yet so alive. The author does not dwell much on extensive imagery and descriptions, though I felt that descriptive scenes of the ambiance and the rich Creole culture would have given more depth to the work. Maybe, I was just craving for more as I became engaged in the travails of the protagonist and her family.
This young adult fiction pulled me in with its smooth and simple language and the possibilities of learning about the culture of the Creoles. As an Indian reader, I could relate to the superstitions and home remedies generously sprinkled all over the book, because we have heard all of them since our childhood. The book does refer to the Creoles mixed culture of Indian, African, Spanish, and French origins.
Spooky in good parts, the novel works with a specific set of characters and builds them up well. It is reminiscent of the Classics as it dwells in 19th century America. From simple pranks to dark magic, from overnight remedies to crafted spells, secret rendezvous to clandestine affairs, from a dark past to the hopes of a future, from new friends to strange ones, from travels to worlds unknown to being unaware of the realities around, The Juju Girl, is a perfect weekend read, or to be read in short sprints and savored in parts.
The book maintains its pace throughout; the second half is as engaging as the first. Characters bring forth new dimensions and paranormal happenings take center stage. This is the story of a family and its tryst with love, longing, death, jealousy, resentment, repentance, and a special Gift. As secrets unfold, true colors revealed, friendships and relationships are put to test, culminating in the confrontation between the powers from beyond and Gabrielle’s Gift.
I thoroughly enjoyed this light young adult book; oft reading late into the night after a long day at work and that is a testimony to the fact that the book enthralls. As an avid web series watcher, I could not help but think that how well this book would translate into a televised fantasy series. It is the perfect blend of youth, drama, charms, and spells!
It also occurred to me that the character of The Juju Girl has just arrived. There is potential to build on the character and take Gabrielle on a whirlwind journey around the globe with her Gift. I am hoping to read more in the series; a book that wants you to read and know more, is definitely one to have on your reading list.