cover image Redwood and Wildfire

Redwood and Wildfire

Andrea Hairston. Tordotcom, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-250-80870-7

Hairston (Master of Poisons) conjures a powerful coming-of-age saga highlighting hoodoo magic and the power of storytelling and set in an alternate 1890s American South. Black teen Redwood Phipps’s magic might be even more potent than her mama’s, and her confidence, fiery spirit, and hoodooing habits may be too much for the folks of Peach Grove, Ga., Black or white. Irish Indigenous Aidan Wildfire Cooper honors his promise to keep an eye on her after her mother is killed by a racist mob. The pair strike up a fast friendship—Redwood can pull the pain out of Wildfire, bringing him back from his frequent alcoholic rages, and Wildfire understands her complex relationship to her heritage, as he must hide his own Seminole roots. They’re kindred spirits and together they can work powerful magic. But backwoods Georgia isn’t safe for them, and they set out in search of a place where they can “be,” taking a winding route to Chicago and performing as storytellers and conjurers to pay their way. Hairston captures an impressive depth of tenderness between her leads and makes a moving argument for the power of stories and songs in the face of bigotry. The novel unfurls slowly, allowing each character the space to come into their own fully. It’s a spectacular feat. (Feb.)