Conjure Women

Afia Atakora

fiction fantasy historical
emotional reflective slow-paced

416 pages | first published 2020

A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing--and for the conjuring of curses--are at the heart of this dazzling first novel

Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother's footsteps as a midwife; and their master's daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women and their community come to a head at the beginning of a war and at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear and a spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom.

Magnificently written, brilliantly researched, richly imagined, Conjure Women moves back and forth in time to tell the haunting story of Rue, Varina, and May Belle, their passions and friendships, and the lengths they will go to save themselves and those they love.

What the community thinks

summary of 367 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings

Expand filter menu View warnings


emotional 75%
dark 73%
mysterious 54%
reflective 40%
sad 38%
challenging 28%
tense 21%
informative 15%
adventurous 8%
inspiring 8%
hopeful 7%
funny 1%


medium 63%
slow 36%

Strong character development?

Yes: 79% | It's complicated: 18% | No: 2%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 60% | Yes: 31% | N/A: 3% | No: 3%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 83% | It's complicated: 12% | N/A: 2% | No: 2%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

Yes: 79% | It's complicated: 16% | N/A: 2% | No: 2%

Average rating