Conjuror || John + Carole E. Barrowman

In A Snapshot
Title: Conjuror
Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Rémy Dupree Rush is the last of his kind. He's a Conjuror, a descendant of an ancient African bloodline that can change reality with music. Seventeen-year-old twins, Matt and Em Calder, are the most powerful of their kind. They are Animare, descendants of an ancient order of artists whose imaginations can bring art to life and travel through paintings. Malevolent forces that only a Conjuror can stop are rising in the world. Rémy must enlist the Calder twins' help to battle them.
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Fantasy
In Three Words: Clever, fast, interesting
Cover: I love the concept and colours of the cover but the image of the instrument in the middle just doesn't seem to fit in with the minimal style of the rest of it. I think it would have looked better without any instrument and more music.
Source: Guardian

If I hate a book I will take three months to read it, not bearing to put myself through terribleness for any longer than necessary. If I absolutely love a book I will also take three months to read it, trying very hard to pace myself in its beauty.

This one didn't take very long to read- 3 days to be exact- which is proof that the conjuror was great, but not faultless. 

One of Conjuror's main strengths was its characters. The MC is called Rémy, a black teenage boy who discovers he is a descendant of a 'Conjuror'- someone who can alter reality with music. I must admit when I first picked up the book I thought Rémy was going to be as cliched as cliched could get. The authors definitely proved me wrong. Rémy was three-dimensional, very relatable and (most importantly) his black status didn't feel like it was just included to tick the 'diverse characters box'.

Another notable mention is Caravaggio, who may have only been a side character but that didn't stop the authors from developing him. He was like the Magnus Bane of the Barrowmans' world, with a hint of an homage to John's humorous and crazy role of 'Captain Jack' from Doctor who. The other subtle references to the TV series like 'wibbly wobbly time' were also much appreciated by me. 

Similarly to Doctor Who, I also loved how well researched Conjuror felt in terms of history, especially the slave trade. The setting and voice dramatically changed throughout the different periods of time, which  contributed to a better image being created of the different events and also added to this overall knowledgeable voice of the book. Despite the fact it was fantasy, the Barrowmans tried very hard to make it as realistic as possible, which is something I quite enjoyed.

As well as this, dialogue within fiction is not something all authors get right. The Barrowman Sibling's sparse use of dialect was just enough to create the historical or modern context when needed and little enough to not get annoying- unlike David Almond's excessive use of 'mebbe'. 

Finally, the plot was great and it was only at the end that I realized how cleverly set and structured  the plot was. To join together like a puzzle, Conjuror's plot left me skipping to the front few pages in the final few chapters to reflect the plot's careful words and clever devices. It was rather like what I would normally do in crime fiction and so the overlapping of genres also works very well in this novel. 

Conjuror had its bad sides and at the start, I couldn't find any pieces of the puzzle of a plot that fit. Nothing made much sense and I was left with this overwhelming feeling that I must have (stupidly) missed something. It wasn't my fault and I understand that now; the structure is meant to be like this to aid the plot.  But John and Carole Barrowman could have made this clearer. They relied too much on the assumption that we, the reader, had nothing better to do but trawl through the jigsaw puzzle. There were random chapter pov changes, sudden time traveling and some awful pacing. I know some people would have left the novel as soon as it was apparent nothing made sense a quarter way through. 

But perhaps this flaw was the fault of another pair of very important characters: the Orion twins. Emma and Matt have the cutest relationship in the book, with a fair bit of hate (and love) on each part. They are also within another book called Hollow Earth. I have nothing against the characters, but rather their  existence. Them being in 'Conjuror' after having featured elsewhere, meant that to someone who hasn't read the book they are in, their story gets confusing. It often feels as though the authors are relying on the reader having previously read Hollow Earth, not explaining things involving Emma and Matt as well as they could and should have. This topped with the fact that they play a huge part in the second half of the novel, contributes to Conjuror's fault in structure and desire to confuse the reader

Conjuror by John and Carole E. Barrowman may have had its faults but overall this was overshadowed by the fact that by the end it was a very enjoyable read. As long as you don't mind waiting to understand the story, I would recommend the novel to any young adults and adults in search of a fantasy, with art and music influences, and to someone who is looking for a fast-paced everyday read.

Instagram @a.s.damea


  1. Great review!! I have never heard of this, but I'll have to check it out on goodreads. I love when music and art are featured in books. :D I do agree with you about the cover and how it would look better without the instrument in the middle. By the way, I nominated you for the Infinity Dreams Award here on my blog!

    1. Thanks! I think it isn't very well known cause it was just released or something. Nice to know someone agrees with me about the cover. Thanks for nominating me. :)


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