Bleu’s Reviews: Conjure Women

Conjure Women focuses on three very different women of the same plantation. Told primarily from the perspective of Rue, daughter of esteemed conjure woman and favorite of Marse Charles Miss May Belle. Rue also happens to be trusted friend and confidant of the master’s daughter Varina. As the story swings from the past during May Belle’s reign as Queen of conjure on the plantation to present day Rue who has taken on the mantle as healer in the Resurrection – era village that is all that remains of their old home. Following the birth of “Bean”;  a child with unusual eyes, and the seasonal appearance of a traveling preacher, a sickness takes hold of the towns children. The townspeople are ready to turn their backs on Rue and towards their faith. As Rue works to find a cure, she begins a path at uncovering everyone’s secrets including her own.

Post – read I still can’t pinpoint exactly where this is located and I’m perfectly okay with that. Every main location was so well crafted I feel like I was blended into the story with them. My favorite would be Atakora’s description of the woods, the darkness of it how the fog seemed to emanate from it. The woods in post civil war village became a character in itself. I also loved how Rue interacted with the land itself, hiding coins in trees as she’d seen her mother do. How she often crouched low to the earth to pick flowers and herbs even the detail in which she described finding the herbs from different spots. I absolutely love a well built world and this book has it in spades.

The story is more about Rue than anyone else but seems to focus on Rue and how she maneuvers around other people. She is often measuring herself against her mother’s accomplishments. She feels a weighty responsible to look after the town and its children despite a clear and present threat to herself and yet she persists to ensure the people who live there are looked after and well cared for. Just as she had always served and cared for Varina throughout their upbringing. She often lets Varina lure her into mischief and I only say let because I feel like Rue at times doesn’t even attempt to speak up. The relationship she shares with Varina is a complex one that seems more maternal at times than what it truly is. The rivalries between a lot of the characters twists the theories of faith, magic and deception. What is illusion when belief becomes a tangible thing? Each of the characters in the book seem to be holding a secret and as the story progressed Atakora peeled back another layer until the final secret was brought to the light and true freedom could finally come.

 

Overall I 100% loved this book!

 

Its my first 5-star read of the year and I have loads more reading to do. As a debut novel I’d have to say Afia Atakora should be super proud of herself. Conjure Women was an amazign read. It was well written, i was into the story and genuinely felt something from start to finish. My goodreads feed was flooded with updates and I was able to finish this beauty in about three days.

 

I will be doing a live zoom discussion with #ALLTHINGSLIT Book Club to discuss Conjure Women be sure to check my social media for more information about that ❤ Can’t wait to chat with everyone soon.

 

What Did You Think Of Conjure Women?

Leave A Comment Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Blu Moon Fiction – Unboxing: T.A.G Dolls

 

Inspired by the culture of her people. Reesema Cooke started That African Girl dolls after seeing a lack of representation of melanin skin tones for little girls of color. “When i see little girls of color/ ethnicity playing with Caucasian dolls i start to wonder. Do we not have enough representation of ourselves in the doll at the store?” That question set the seamstress/entrepreneur to task at creating a doll line that was one of kind while still encompassing all of the Black Girl Magic we hold dear.  T.A.G Dolls are for those little people that want a doll that looks like them.

I discovered the line during some dress shopping for my besties wedding. One of the bridesmaids is the owner of T.A.G. As soon as I saw the handcrafted dolls I knew I had to have her make me one. So I requested she make me the Noel Bleu doll.

My Doll is wearing blue shades, a blue velour jumpsuit, matching bow and blue sneakers. Her skin color is chocolate and her hair is ombre blue. Pre-Made dolls like mine are $30. She offers custom doll options between $40 – $50 and free shipping on all purchases.

Bleu’s Reviews: A Discovery of Witches

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It begins with a book recommendation and a purchase

It begins with a TV show and a binge session

It begins with a discovery of witches … book review

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

I am kicking myself for not having read this book sooner. I originally heard of the All Souls Trilogy  back when i worked for a company that won’t be named because they don’t sponsor me. LOL.

My coworker, another book fan soul sister recommended I check out the series. I made sure to buy all three of the books in the series and added them to my collection, TBR and c7e7739a729e409a46fa5fe50cb8aa4f328589467160928262.jpglong list of books I’d been planning to read.

I’d even attempted reading the book on two separate occasions the last of which was a month long maternity leave when I couldn’t be bothered to do much of anything, especially reading.

This year however, I made it my first book of the reading season and despite a shaky start while trying to find time to read with a growing toddler attempting to crawl everywhere, I picked up a rhythm and finished the book in about three weeks.

Alchemical historian and Oxford resident Diana Bishop, descendant of the Salem Bishop’s has shut herself off form her magic. Until she requests a not so ordinary book from the Bodlien library one day.  This book, Ashmole 782, will bring a host of magical creatures she never expected to socialize with and unravel a secret engrained in the fabric of her life…and then there are vampires.

My first impressions of the book…

I absolutely loved this book. At it’s core it’s a pretty standard formula. Matthew is the tortured hero who falls in love with our female protagonist. That Matthew follows the tropes of all vampires is a bonus, he is brooding and secretive with a killer temper, but 20200115_124316.jpghe loves fiercely and his love for Diana though sudden is unbreakable. Diana for her part plays the typical female lead in a YA love story, though she possesses great strength and abilities that rival those around her, she is fearful of her power, spends most of the book being coddled and cared for and only begins to step into her own towards the final stages of the story.

It usually annoys me while i’m reading, and I won’t lie some of the ways Matthew condescended to Diana and left her out of things irritated me a lot. However, Harkness did something few people have dared to do form what I’ve read. She gave Diana her strength back.

The best part of the story for me was “watching” Diana go through a literal transformation. At the start of the book she is completely closed off from her magic. Her past fears and an unknown spell only allow her to do tiny tasks like grabbing a book or fixing the washer. By the final pages Diana is hopeful of what she can do with her d33bfe4e23d3e4982f9b79fb20fdf4a7945846634189835100.jpgpowers and is able to control them to some small degree.

I do frequently enjoy a good vampire love story and Matthew and Diana’s forbidden love gives me all types of squishy feelings.  Their relationship mirrors that of mixed race couples during the civil rights era. Simply because they are different they are forbidden to be together and by defying this law they are putting themselves and their families in danger. They will do it for LOVE. The fear some of the characters have for their children and the support Matthew and Diana get from friends, family other people who are like them is reminiscent of the real life struggles mixed couples faced.

It’s great when a story has a deeper meaning. As a person of color, whether Deborah Harkness intended for this to be the theme or not, what stuck out most for me in this story were the ways it portrayed the downside of generational racial inequality and prejudice. Matthew and Diana are two different races of creatures and because of that they are forbidden to be together.

In a society where the hierarchy of magical creatures places value on lineage and supernatural ability Witches and Vampires are at the top and Daemons are at the bottom, Daemons aren’t even allowed to congregate together.  The way Harkness developed the society and culture of the characters in the world of All Souls is one of my favorite parts. I absolutely love a well built world.

The characters in the A Discovery of Witches  really moved the story along for me. I’d watched season one of the tv show beforehand so I was able to actually envision the cast for the first few chapters. Once I really got into the story though, the characters became more alive and no longer seemed remotely close to the way the actors portrayed them.3a956443b3e15ec5a9e1f9c7e43d8fb26087554198723611023.jpg

Diana can be annoyingly meek at times but has a resilient spirit. Her dedication to Matthew is on the one hand the stuff of feminist nightmares while the relationship as a whole draws you in. I root for this old fashioned chivalrous relationship despite being completely aware that he patronizes her and lies repeatedly. Because he’s a vampire? At one point it gets so annoying in the book I physically rolled my eyes. He eventually comes to respect her after she nearly dies trying to save his life and frequently blames himself for not being able to protect her. Even though she doesn’t seem to be able to protect herself either. Matthew’s decision  to aide her in learning her magic wins him brownie points in my book. His cute little French pet names for her makes my heart go fuzzy.

The way magic, magical creatures and the supernatural are sorted in this world is why A Discovery of Witches  is becoming one of my favorite series to read. Harkness took the c0ce585322590a49e08b7290e633998e901557597508079403.jpgconcept of the magical community and broke it down in a way that I’ve often thought about for my own writing.  Vampires long since believed to be “dead” are merely beings with an alternative metabolism that slows their heart rates and reserves energy. The term, sleep like the dead, was used as the explanation for why people thought these beings were in fact deceased.

Experiencing magic through Diana’s eyes as she finally learns to wield and control it is what kept me reading through the book. More than I wanted to know how the lovers would fair against their adversaries, more than I enjoyed meeting each new character that showed 9c005c70f2392849b97d083135c169496164085333605234820.jpgup at Sept-Tours and later the bewitched house in Madison. I enjoyed the magic and the history that was entertwined within the magic.

I guess that’s my reasoning for why I’m shirking my 2020 TBR and jumping right into Shadow of Night. I’ll be reading this along with a few shorter e-books I’ve promised to review from some lesser known authors so keep your eyes on the blog for a lot of new content.

My goal at the start of my read was to complete the first book of the All SOuls Trilogy  before season 2 of A Discovery of Witches started back on BBC. As I was checking my email this morning, sneek-peeks of the cast of season 2 are just being released, so I think I beat my deadline.

 

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What Was Your Favorite Part of A Discovery of Witches?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Bleu’s Reviews: Mirror, Mirror

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Rating: 3 out of 5

Gregory Maguire is still one of my favorite authors but Mirror, Mirror is sadly one of my least favorite books by this author. It’s tragic because I really wanted to love this book as much as I love much of his other works. Mirror, Mirror wasn’t a poorly written book but it definitely didn’t inspire me to read on.

As far as his body of work goes, the same tools and tricks he uses to craft and ensnare us with his other stories are utilized here. Maguire infuses reality and history into a fairytale as old as time itself, while finding a way to draw forth a deeper moral to the screenshot_20190124-220719_chrome4007441423460780054.jpgoverall concept, making us look closer at our childhood bedtime stories.

This time however, I found the story weighed down with too much historical context. This time around I felt sequestered on an island. It dragged on like the years Vicente spent in prison. I too was trapped, between my desire to finish the book and my inability to completely buy into the history lesson.

Maguire’s retelling of the Grimm’s classic Snow White, takes us to Montefiore. A luxurious farm nestled high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria. We meet our main character, seven – year – old Bianca de Nevada and her doting father Don Vicente.

Vicente is sent on a religious quest by the unscrupulous Cesare Borgia and his sister, Lucrezia leaving innocent Bianca at the mercy of the two wicked children of the corrupt political family.

96700515d6979b8a8e4dc940e9856c4f6444981157864553769.jpgSnow White’s tale has always been about purity and innocence and this version was no different. Maguire’s Mirror, Mirror added another layer of depth toying with the theme of influence and how influence can effect and alter another’s existence.
We saw how the influence of Pope Alexander VI shaped his children and led them ultimately to their demises.

How Vicente’s influence kept Bianca on Montefiore, how Primavera and Fra Ludovico were able to protect the young girl with whatever little influence they had. How Bianca’s mere presence was enough to change the dwarves.

We watched the transformations of each main character in the book as the story crept on at it’s snails pace. The intention seemed to be to give context. Snow White’s was a slow systematic manipulation at the hands of Lucrezia. A years long evolution in what seemed like a chrysalis stage ending the final if not abrupt emergence as a fully physical formed young woman, gullible but seemingly of age.

Vicente’s evolution was more a literal withering of his body and at times his mind. He remained determined to her back to his daughter despite the challenges he’d faced.

Lucrezia Borgia’s evolution was more a literal transformation, when we are introduced to her she is at the height of her power both physically and politically but gradually falls away. In time Lucrezia’s own vanity strips her of everything and her relentlessness drives her to her death.

Maguire’s interpretation of Snow White showed a young girl who was always isolated. Shyer than most, she possessed a curiosity that was often outweighed by her meekness. I rooted for our heroin to some day be rejoined with her father but even more than that I fc624855b3c17871e57bfcfe49791c892177338806584808463.jpgrooted for our heroin to save herself.

This Snow White didn’t seem like the main character at all. The action happened around her or to her but never as a direct result of her. In fact the entire catalyst of her story was in reaction Cesare Borgia and not the young girl directly.

This may be why the book dragged on for ages. It took me about four months to finish reading it in its entirety, partly because I knew how the story would end. I wasn’t waiting for some great plot twist or any alterations to the basic story line. There was instead a more pensive waiting to see how the author would unfold the common tropes of Snow White.

His delivery though overwhelmed with backstory and scenery did not disappoint. We witnessed Maguire masterfully craft the magic mirror, then shatter it’s magic with science before shrouding it with myth again. Maguire unpeeled the layers of the queen’s depravity and her spell-craft and even gave meaning to the high position the apple screenshot_20190124-220930_google2242974854855260815.jpgplayed in the story. The apple which has always been a symbol of purity and wisdom. A religious scion to relate to, a means of temptation especially when paired with the feminine mystique.

Maguire’s apple served as not only a means to begin the story but a common thread tying all the tales loose ends together. The apple which once tempted Eve in her garden drove Lucrezia to insanity and murder. A nod at how even the semblance of influence is enough to alter one’s behavior.

Overall I did enjoy the book. I’m rating it 3/5 because I wouldn’t force myself to endure it a second time but definitely would recommend reading it if you’re a fan of Maguire’s books. If you enjoy a good fairy tale or like adult adaptation’s of children’s stories than this book is great to add to the list.

For me I get to scratch it off my Gregory Maguire bucket – list and move on to my new read.

 

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What Is Your Favorite Snow White Re-Telling?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Renegades Read Along (Chap 1 – 15)

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Currently Reading: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

I was having some trouble getting through my read of Renegades and was hoping to add some excitement in hopes of finishing the book. So this is me trying to spice things up with what will hopefully be a new permanent addition to the blog. For more on what I thought about the first fifteen chapters watch the video below!

 

 

What Do You Think of The Book So Far?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Be Expo 2018: Children’s Books for Kids of Color

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My weekend was one to remember for sure!

A few weeks ago when I was obsessed with the flower show! I should’ve been researching and getting my hustle on for the 2018 Be Expo! I was fortunate enough to grab a ticket, even scored me some expo swag. 20180317_1711011066486878.jpg

The BeExpo was sponsored by Radio One Philadelphia, and is one of THE largest expose catered towards promoting diversity and empowerment in the city. The vendors were local, some were faces you may have seen at others festivals.

I have a weird relationship with crowds; as more people flooded the convention center’s walking space, I realized that it would soon be time to leave. Just before we ended our day however, I was able to snag a peek at the cover of a book. It was Pinnochio, and I didn’t actually by that book. Instead I purchased, The Adventures of Jahloni & Jahbril,  a story about two Rastafarian boys who become superheroes after finding a magical ancient book hidden under their parents bed. The book sends them 20180317_1717121960211158.jpginto another universe filled with Dinosaurs and new adventures. The Adventures of Jahloni & Jahbril is best suited for ages 6 to 9. Urban Toons will be expanding into the world of apps for kids, but started remixing common beloved fairy tales, and setting them in a locale that children from different backgrounds would be familiar with. Urban Toons is also based in Philadelphia, so I’m even more happy to show support.

 

The other hidden find of the expo was a booth I’d walked right by when we walked into the event. A circle of20180317_190439909092533.jpg people crowded my view and I wasn’t able to get a look at what was being sold. Luckily as we were leaving I was able to catch another author selling his children’s book. There was a series called “Aron’s Adventures” also featuring an african american as the main character.screenshot_20180322-1956041630791066.jpg

The author Nahjee Grant was kind enough to speak with me briefly about his series. He is also the creator and host of the children’s TV reading show Really Exciting and Delightful Stories and travels to various schools as a motivational speaker. His Cool Smart Kid books, are geared towards people of color and at risk youth.

My day at the BeExpo was one for the books, I met many more authors, but that’s for another post. If you missed out, be sure to grab your tickets early next year. The event featured workshops, panel discussions, health screenings, and shopping at vendor’s booths.

 

What’s Your Favorite Children’s Story?

Leave A Comment Below!

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

My Netflix Addiction: What Happened To Monday

Sounds very much like a coming of age tale or some fuzzy Rom-Com but don’t let the title fool you. This movie is anything but rosey. 
Set in the future, after the human population crisis caused the world to literally run out of food, a genetic mutation made creating food more feasible but the artificial substances in the food caused an insurance in multiple births, ( twins, triplets, etc.) Thus exacerbating an already existence conflict, Overpopulation.

The solution made by Glen Close, a one child per family rule. William Dafoe, plays a man with a big secret, he’s allows his late daughters seven daughters to live as one person. Named for each day of the week, they assume the identity of one Karen. 


One day Monday’s Karen goes missing and it all unravels from there.

I do enjoy a good suspense movie and What Happened To Monday, offers the perfect blend of mystery, action and emotion to make this movie great for any Netflix & Chill session. 

My Netflix Addiction: Salem

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I’ve always had a special interest in the Salem Witch Trials, as a wiccan enthusiast and avid history buff. I’ve seen The Crucible more times than I can count both on stage and on screen. The crucible and the Salem Witch trials as a whole have been used in many political science classes and I’m sure many others as a prime example of what panic and fear can do to a community.

Throughout history when the government was searching for communists or terrorists we caution them not to start a “witch hunt” advising our present day rulers not to make the mistakes of the past.  The Salem Witch trials, for me has always been a favorite subject to research.

As usual my Saturday morning was spent scanning through my Netflix queue wondering what new show I wanted to see. I just finished watching Ozark and was in a period of mourning for my loss of something to watch.

Enter Salem, a show that initially I’d assumed would be a repeat of the cast and crew  of the crucible. Opening several years before the show explores the lives of Mary Walcott and John Aldan, young lovers being forced apart by the cruel George Sibley, head and councilor of the selectmen board, and one of the founders of Salem. John was being sent to fight in the French and Indian war leaving Mary in Salem alone. salem title card

Before the end of episode One we see that she and slave Tituba magically abort the baby she carried by John to protect them both form the persecution of the puritans.  Years passed and we see the Mary has married the wicked George Sibley but also, has become a witch embarking on her grand rite. Of course John comes back to complicate things.  The retelling of the Salem Witch trials plays out with the witches being behind it all. A secret which means the noose if it was revealed.

I’ve gotten my boyfriend hooked and so as of now we’re re-watching season One. Each episode is approximately an hour so I’ve made it to episode 6. It comes on WGN but all 3 seasons are currently on Netflix. I read somewhere a petition was going around to get the show back on air as it was cancelled after season 3.

That will be a burden for a few weeks from now when I’ve finished binge watching the first 3 seasons.

 

Have you seen Salem? What did you think? Will you be signing the petition? Let us know in the comments below!

Weekly Wanna Watch List 

Last Weekend Annabelle Creation smashed the box office grossing 35 million in sales for the No 1 spot and i’m just waiting for $5 Tuesdays at the Rave to avoid the crowd. As always we have a healthy mix of fantasy and horror and rounding out our Weekly Wanna Watch an action adventure. Check out the trailers and my picks for this weeks wanna watch!

 

The Shape of Water

I’ve never acctually heard of this movie prior to prepping for today’s post.  Octavia Spencer happens to be one of my favorite “newer” actresses. I have yet to  see a movie with her in it that I didn’t love.  Seeing her name amongst the cast definitely made me consider watching the trailer.

Though the title sounds like that of a romance novel, and perhaps there is a bit of romance foreshadowed here in the trailer, The Shape of Water is actually a Sci-Fi/Fantasy and aquatic lore. Based in Cold War America (approx. 1963) Elisa a mute woman working in a high-security government lab discovers a merman and strikes up a friendship.

If that isn’t enough to stoke your interest, this movie is directed by Guillermo del Toro. A writer/director i’ve recently become obsessed with. I may actually go see this film in theatres, if not i’ll be adding it to my Netflix queue for sure.

 

 

Annabelle Creation

My love of horror movies can be attributed to my late grandmother Josephine Shepherd who i’m sure would NOT watch this movie if she were alive to do so, because it’s that’s damn scary! I on the other hand will most certainly be going to see this film as soon as the crowds of crazy movie talkers dies down.

The fourth installment in the Conjuring  franchise, and the long awaited prequel to demon doll Annabelle, Annabelle Creation finally explains why and how the demented marionette came to be. Years after he and his wife, Esther, lose their 7-year-old daughter Annabelle in a car accident they welcome a nun and six orphaned girls into their California farmhouse. As usual in these situations one child sneaks into a forbidden room and finds a not so innocent doll with a life of her own.

I just want to say I. Will. Be. Seeing. This. Movie ! That is all.

 

The Dark Tower

 

I am a huge Stephen King fan and my fantasy romance with Idris Elba has been ongoing since The Wire. That being said i’ve never actually read any of the Dark Tower series but given the buzz the movie is getting I’m willing to add this to my TBR list also.

If you’re unfamiliar with the storyline; Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), also known as the Man in Black. The Gunslinger must prevent the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together. The ultimate plays out on the big screen in this film directed by Nikolaj Arcel

 

Polaroid

As much as I love a good screamer flick, I love my cheesy B-List horrors movies just as much. The ridiculous scenerio’s that only happen to teens, absentee parents all that converge on a small town with inexplicable consequences. What’s not to love?

In Polaroid, Bird Fitcher is a high school senior and resident loner finds an old school polaroid camera and starts using it. Soon she discovers the camera’s dark qualities when everyone who’s picture she’d taken meets a strange and tragic death.

Be sure to check out the trailer to see for yourself!

 

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Blake Lively is super lucky to have Ryan Reynolds as her beau. Rugged good looks, washboard abs I don’t even know what this movie is about and I wanna watch it just to get a glimpse of Ryan with his shirt off. Add Samuel L. Jackson to the cast list and this movie sells itself.

 

Need more convincing?

The world’s top protection agent is called to guard the life of his mortal enemy, one of the world’s most notorious hit men. The two have been on the opposite end of battle for years and are thrown together for 24 hours. During their journey from England to the Hague, they encounter high-speed car chases, outlandish boat escapades and a ruthless Eastern European dictator out for blood.

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? That’s why i’ll be getting a ticket to see this one on the big screen!

 

Which movies made your wanna watch list? Have you already seen some on this week’s? Let us know in the comments below!

My Netflix Addiction: Hemlock Grove

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Remember when Netflix had Max, the feature that recommended movies based on your preferences. I miss that guy, he made being lazy super easy. Just before his abrupt departure Max recommended this based on my interest in magical TV shows and dark story lines.

The first season was a bit confusing but weird enough to get me to watch it through to the end. Femke Jensen and that kid from Degrassi were among the primary cast and they did a great job. The acting on the show is amazing.

I later found out that it was also a book series. I may actually try reading because my interest in the show fizzled midway through season three. There is a lot of incest in this show. Some pretty gross blood play and what I assume would be attempts at true to life gypsy rituals which are still pretty icky.

All in all, the show just got to be too confusing, when you have no idea what’s happening in an episode that’s your sign to bail. I may revisit Hemlock Grove again someday. It really only takes an episode to win me back to a show’s side.

 

Have you seen Hemlock Grove? What did you think? Did you also read the book?