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  • Beatrice Iker

The Book That Made Me: Write about Hoodoo

Content warning: Death of a parental figure

I read Legendborn in October 2020 and again in December 2020. And thank goodness, to be honest.

My local bookstore had copies of Legendborn scattered across the crowded shelves. But this was the only one I saw that was YA, fantasy, and had a Black girl on the cover. So naturally, I bought it.

Legendborn made me have feelings. There were good feelings and there were bad feelings. There was joy and laughter, but dread and unease as well.

The main character, Bree, is a teenager from North Carolina dealing with, among other things, the death of her mother and the accompanying grief that came with it.

I loved the way the author, Tracey Deonn, wrote about grief. How people who experience trauma can see/experience pre-trauma and post-trauma versions of themselves. I feel like that is an important conversation to have, and I’m elated it was had with a Black girl with natural hair in the south.

Legendborn has magic, but also a magic system inspired by Rootworking or Hoodoo. This was the first time I had ever experienced this in a fantasy book. It was absolutely captivating. The author’s word choice around this topic indicates to me a level of understanding of Rootworking in the real world, and a respect for it.

This fictionalized version of Rootworking made me consider writing the practice into my own stories. Hoodoo is uniquely Black and something that is so important to me. Why wouldn't I include it in my work?

So thank you to Legendborn, for convincing me that I should write what I know and what I find beautiful and mesmerizing and, yes, magical.

Plus, it was nice to see a Black girl (eventually) kicking ass.

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