When you pick up these books, you see an old woman named Eulalie riding her bicycle on an old road into town with her cat Lena.
As you begin to read, you soon learn that Eulalie is a conjure woman who sells natural remedies and magical spells to clients who stop by her house for help. Herbal remedies go back a long ways. In fact, many of today's FDA-approved medications are synthesized variations of old cures.
So, what do we have here? An older-than-dirt lady in the north Florida back country who knows how to cure people. What about the magic, though? Some folks call it superstition. Others say it only works if you think it works. Hmm, that sounds similar to what other people say about spiritual approaches from prayer to the law of attraction.
It's interesting, though, that books sympathetic to the natural magic of conjure and traditional witchcraft explain how it all works with words that sound very similar to those used by some people to explain how the more "out there" interpretations of quantum mechanics work.
How can a witch or conjure woman do anything to you from her house? How can a particle in one part of the universe be connected to a particle in another part of the universe? As for the physics, Einstein was skeptical about any possible instant connection of faraway particles to nearby particles, considering it spooky action at a distance.
As an author, I know better than to argue with my characters about what they believe. In Conjure Woman's Cat, a crime has been committed. The police don't may much attention to it because the victim is black and the suspects are white. Does Eulalie use magic to solve this crime? I'm going to say yes because that's the spooky response and authors like me love spooky.
In Eulalie and Washerwoman, a more complex crime is happening: men are going missing and nobody knows how. Then, the mortgage holder forecloses and the house gets bulldozed off the property. As it turns out, an evil conjure man named Washerwoman has something to do with it. He runs the local numbers racket, and since the police get a cut of the action, they don't worry about the missing men. Probably just bad luck.
I need to mention Lena the cat. She can not only "talk" to Eulalie using a psychic "thought speech," but she can also astral travel in her sleep to find out what's going on without getting caught. It's fair to say Lena believes in magic even though she thinks Eulalie is crazy to believe in omens.
Suffice it to say, Lena has a lot to do in both novels even though her conjure woman can do some spooky things that Einstein as well as today's scientists might not believe in. I don't recall who it was, but a famous scientist was once asked why he had a horseshoe above his door. He said it was there in case it worked.
Seems to me, a lot of Eulalie's mojo bags, possum bone readings, mutli-colored candles, and spells really work. As you read, you might agree with her. Or, as she tracks down the bad guys, you might think that maybe she's just working with a basket full of lucky coincidences.
Either way, I hope you enjoy these stories as you try to guess who's doing what to whom and whether the whole shebang is to broke to fix. And who knows, by the time you finish reading the books, maybe you'll be a little more aware of things that go bump in the night, the strange cold places in the woods, and the spooky intelligence of the wind blowing through the branches of the longleaf pines.
What ever is causing that cold place knows you're there. So does the wind. That's Eulalie's story and--as you will find out--she's sticking to it. And, if you see Eulalie and Lena on the street, don't mess with them or the alligator.
"Told through the narrative voice of Lena, Eulalie's shamanistic cat, the fast-paced story comes alive. The approach is fresh and clever; Malcolm R. Campbell manages Lena's viewpoint seamlessly, adding interest and a unique perspective. Beyond the obvious abilities of this author to weave an enjoyable and engaging tale, I found the book rich with descriptive elements. So many passages caused me to pause and savor. 'The air...heavy with wood smoke, turpentine, and melancholy.' ' ...the Apalachicola National Forest, world of wiregrass and pine, wildflower prairies, and savannahs of grass and small ponds... a maze of unpaved roads, flowing water drawing thirsty men...' '...of the prayers of silk grass and blazing star and butterfly pea, of a brightly colored bottle tree trapping spirits searching for Washerwoman...of the holy woman who opened up the books of Moses and brought down pillars of fire and cloud so that those who were lost could find their way.'"
- Rhett DeVane, Tallahassee Democrat.