Conjure Woman’s Cat by Malcolm R Campbell

I’ve just finished this short novel, which had me spellbound.

Recently I praised Lynne Cantwell’s ‘woo woo’ novellas.  Now I am praising Campbell’s ‘Conjure Woman’s Cat’, which is stuffed pretty full of hoo doo (which he is at pains to point out is not the same as voo doo). Eulalie, the conjure woman, and Lena, her cat, live in the Florida Panhandle (I didn’t know there was such a thing, so I’ve learned something right there) in amongst the creepy woods, thick swamps, ‘gators and haints. Eulalie is a poor, old woman whose life seems to have been less than successful. You think?! She is a most powerful conjure woman, quietly sorting out the problems of her friends, relations and neighbours. And what a complex undertow of relationships there is down by the Coowahchobee River. Campbell reveals them bit by bit, with a little murder, a fair smount of spell casting and a wry look on life. The wryness is down to Lena. The little book is narrated by the cat. And a fine narrator she is too.

And speaking as one who values sleep the older she gets (as I suspect is the case with Eulalie and Lena, one of whom is older than dirt and the other catching her up in cat years) I particularly enjoyed this from near the beginning of the book:

“Everyone who knew what was what hurried past our front gate and brick walk when the black scrap of wood, scrawled with the blood-red word ‘sleeping,’ hung above the threshold.”

I am so going to try that.

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