Incantation by Alice Hoffman



Estrella deMadrigal thought she knew herself: daughter, granddaughter, sister, dearest friend, beloved. She is Star in the Night Sky, Truth in the Darkness. But truth is rare and precious in this cruel and unforgiving century in Spain, when Jews who refused conversion to Christianity risked everything – love, life, family, faith.

Then: A startling discovery shakes Estrella’s world to the core. And yet, it is something small and sweet that sets it aflame. A kiss. A kiss from someone she is forbidden to love.

As a new girl emerges from the cocoon of secrets in which she has been shrouded, passion burns and friendship crumbles – and betrayal unleashes a monstrous evil from the very deepest part of the earth. Estrella crosses over to a place she never thought she could be; she is someone she never could have imagined.

Remember the story she is about to tell you.

This is a short, young-adult book. I read it in one sitting and it was an OK read. Estrella is an ordinary girl in the 1500s, until she falls in love. The problem is that the person she has fallen for is her best friend, and next door neighbour’s cousin. And she is in love with him too. What to do? She tries to resist but eventually she gives in to her feelings – leading to the destruction of all she has known.

This book is set in an era where if you are not a Christian you face horrendous injustice and racism. Jews and Muslims hide or convert to Christianity but that is not enough. Estrella and many others are about to have their lives shaken due to this segregation. This theme shapes the whole book and Hoffman is brave with what she writes. Not everyone survives, many lives are ruined; the message is loud and clear – it is not right.

This is a good read and has some likeable characters. Estrella is one. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her and what she suffered. However, she was determined and had a survivor’s nature and she fought anything that was thrown at her. She looked out for others and was just an honest girl who fell in love. I think Hoffman wrote realistic characters – such as the friend who suffered jealousy and the Grandma whose life fell apart when her husband was taken.

This was a quick read. The book is split into four sections, each following Estrella. This is an easy read but it has an important theme. It was an OK read 🙂

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