Conjure: call upon to appear, by means of a magic ritual; make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic; call (an image) to mind; cause someone to feel or think of (something)
Elemental: primary or basic; concerned with chemical elements or other basic components; related to or embodying the powers of nature; having the primitive and inescapable character of a force of nature; a supernatural entity or force thought to be physically manifested by occult means
“I just do the best I can to face what life brings. That’s the secret, you know. That’s the way you change your fate.”
“We all come to ruin, we turn to dust, but whom we love is the thing that lasts.”
I noticed in these sections, the themes, not surprisingly, stayed the same: fate, love, identity, courage/caution, forgiveness/healing.
Jet loses herself (and her sight) to her own guilt and self-loathing: “She wanted to sink down, to be punished and done away with, but she felt the buoyancy inside her, and she floated when she meant to drown.” This is an interesting quote because it both encapsulates her desire to feel a consequence but also the hope inside of her that will not be submerged completely. Her spirit is naturally light, and she cannot betray, completely, her own true identity. She hates herself and holds herself accountable for the deaths of her loved ones, but she is her own curse. She even asks her aunt to help her forget Levi’s memory, but Isabelle reminds her that her memories and experiences are what shape her, and, good or bad, they are necessary, no matter how painful. Her healing begins when she meets Rafael, which I find to be an interesting relationship, she believes he will help her find closure, but he seems more to be a new path…an opening to something hopeful and healing. She even realizes, when she is with him that “We make our own fate.” Another interesting relationship that Jet begins to develop is with Levi’s father, the Reverend. There seems to be a glimmer of forgiveness here that may just help them both find some closure together, not only in the context of lost love, but for their entire family line(s), as well.
Vincent also loses himself, not to guilt, but rather to his own confusion and frustration. He briefly chooses to practice dark magic because he can make more money doing so, but he realizes quickly that the cost is too high. Funnily enough, a dog (by fate?) finds him at a low point, and becomes his spiritual antidote. He also receives a mysterious note that leads him to Conjure Street, where he finds the person who appears to be his soulmate, William Grant. “In the past the sex was only about what others might do for him. He had been selfish and thoughtless, but now he was a different man entirely. What they did together was a form of magic, maddening and ecstatic.” I feel a strong sense of foreboding in Vincent’s character…an ominous undercurrent of warnings that make me worry for his futures. From the beginning, he has never been quite settled, never content, and now that he is, I have a bad feeling that things are going to take an ugly turn for him.
Franny sort of loses herself too, because she gives up so much of what would make her happy because she thinks it is necessary for others to happy or secure. She gives up her own future and perceived freedom to take care of her bother and sister, hedging herself into a life selling just enough herbs and potions to get by. She gives up the love of her life, Haylin, because she thinks she will be the death of him. She gives him her “pet” crow to watch over him, goes to him when he is ill, interrupts his engagement party, and just can’t seem to leave him alone or be happy for him, even though she keeps saying that is all she wants. Her conflicted emotions rise from fear and insecurity, two emotions she keeps heavily guarded by her outward show of courage – “…only the crow knew that it was possible for a woman to claim to have no heart at all and still cry as though her heart would break.” I think I like Franny the most because I can identify with her easily. She plays the strong one…but inside, she is a mess of emotions like anyone else. She doesn’t know how to ask for help or how to ask for love. She can’t let herself simply be happy, even when life offers her the chance.
“She had wanted to be a bird, but now she knew, as she looked out the window to see Lewis following, that even birds are chained to earth by their needs and desires.”
Some interesting questions:
Do you think it matters that the novel be set during this time period? Why or why not?
April knows that her daughter will not live long, so she is trying to make the best of her life: “I’m giving her the best life I can. She’ll grow up, I know that much, and really, who knows how much time anyone has?” Would you want to know how much time you had? Or how much time a loved one would have? If you did, how would it change things for you?
How do the section titles, “Conjure” and “Elemental,” fit the story at this point?
Emily Dickinson’s book of poems is mentioned several times in the the novel. What is the importance or connection?
“Unable are the Loved to die, for Love is Immortality.” – Emily Dickinson
If you have any responses to the questions or the book so far, please add them in the comments below.
Next week, we’ll wrap up the final two sections of the book, so grab a cozy blanket and a cup of tea (or glass of wine) and enjoy the end!