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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  4,337 ratings  ·  733 reviews
From a New York Times bestselling author comes a journey of loss and rebirth with a startling premise inspired by historical fact. Estrella is a Marrano: one of the Spanish Jews living double lives when those who refused conversion risked everything. Estrella's discovery that her family secretly practices the ancient way of wisdom known as kabbalah leads her to her true se...more
Hardcover, 166 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Practical Magic by Alice HoffmanHere on Earth by Alice HoffmanThe Dovekeepers by Alice HoffmanThe Probable Future by Alice HoffmanThe Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
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15th out of 34 books — 247 voters
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88th out of 132 books — 112 voters

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This book is a beautiful telling of a horrific story. Set in Spain in 1500, Estrella DeMadrigal is a normal teenage girl whose everyday life revolves around her well respected family and her best friend, Catalina. The peaceful existence of her charmed childhood is disrupted when soldiers build a bonfire of books in the town’s center.

This barbaric act signals a rebirth of anti-semitism and as the government decrees against Jews heighten, Estrella realizes that her family may have reason to be afr...more
The day the books burned in the plaza, Estrella’s life began to change. She caught her first glimpse of a different side of her best friend. She felt the evilness which had come up and inhabited her town. She saw a part of her mother that scared her the same way her grandmother always had.

Estrella’s town has always been divided. Years ago, the Jews we all made to convert to Christianity or leave. Some refused both, and were forced to the outskirts, living behind a gate. On the other side of town...more
Tara Chevrestt
Every time I sit down and read a book about the Spanish Inquisition, I'm shocked all over again. What pointless and horrid brutality. And though I've read a story with this theme and plot before, it still impacted me.

Terrific writing style and prose, though I have to say the dialogue being all italics instead of in "s is disconcerting.

You have a girl in Spain during these troubled times...she notices little things. Her family crosses themselves differently, doesn't eat pork, has mysterious visit...more
Yolanda Sfetsos
I started this book yesterday morning and finished it by the evening. It's not a long book, but it is a very heavy and emotional story. From the beginning, I knew I was going to be swept away into a very dark time in Spanish history. A time that always angers and saddens me so much.

And I was right. I felt every bit of Estrella's narration, very deeply.

Estrella and her neighbour, Catalina, have been best friends since they were babies. Estrella always likes to say that they look like sisters, a...more
As others have said, this is a well written book about a little-known period in time. The Jews in Spain in the 1500's were forced to become Christian. Some chose to hide their true religion and lived a double life. It's sweet, and bitter. You know something terrible will happen, but you hold out hope until the very end...

I loved the main character. Alice Hoffman did an excellent job of letting us witness the evil of the world through innocent eyes. Beautiful, terrifying, hopeful, tender, harsh,...more
To quote a fantastic play that sums up quite a significant point in the novel "Where they burn books they will eventually burn people." This book opens with a bonfire made of the Jew's books and medical books (it is set in medieval Spain.) Estrealla and her best friend run into town to see what is happening and Estrella's mother sees her and demands that she go home immediately. As the story progresses things get worse and worse for the Jews and especially for those Jews that are in hiding as to...more
Steve Cran
Catalina and Esrtrella are best friends who live in a small village in Spain. They are such good friends that people cal them Raven and Crow. THey look like each other even. THe first part of the book dewcribes the life of Estrella who the story revolves around. The mother is ffreinds with a family in the muslim quarter with a doctor and a wife who is terminally ill. Her mother is a knowledgable healer and knows how to seww clothes. THe Grand father teaches students late into the night and grand...more

For young Estrella, living in Encaleflora, Spain is all she's ever known. Staying with her grandfather, grandmother, mother, and brother Louis, Estrella has many questions about her life but never fully understands or gets answers about her family traditions. When all seems right, Estrella's best friend Catalina rushes her to the plaza where something exciting is happening. There Estrella finds a Marano (or Jew) that has been caught keeping a book. It is burned while the man cry's and is mocked...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Social Voice
by Stephany G

"Some people say, save yourself and save your life. I say, be yourself and save your soul." If one were to read this quote on would think of a wise man that had gone through many difficult situations, but this quote was of the lips of a young teenager, sixteen years of age to be exact. Incantation is one of the most intriguing yet realistic books in the market to date, showing the intensive life of many people during the period of Jewish hatred (1500).This book uses elements in lite...more
Kelly Rae
This book is about a young girl named Estrella growing up in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. A time period when anyone who was considered different was tortured.

Estrella and her best friend Catalina, start out as best friends until Estrella steals the heart of Catalina’s dream husband and Catalina becomes dangerously envious. Soon her envy drives her to testify that the Estrella's family is not true Christians. Only when Estrella’s entire family is tortured and killed does Catalina realiz...more
Alice Hoffman is an amazing author. She has the ability to write each novel like a poem. It feels like poetry, but with an incredible story to go along with it. But each book is so extremely sad, which is a hard emotion to write. Alice Hoffman's books are super great, and the emotions they can control is extraordinary.
Incantation, my second Hoffman book, is about a girl, Estrella, who is living in Spain in the 1500's. All her life, she has thought she was a Christian and thought she knew who s...more
Tendo já ouvido falar maravilhas desta autora e tendo adorado o filme "Da magia à sedução", entrei com elevadas expectativas na leitura deste livro. Pois qual não foi o meu espanto quando começo a ler e vejo que este livro não tem nada de mágico ou mesmo fantástico! Não consigo de todo perceber qual foi a ideia da Gailivro em publicá-lo dentro da colecção 1001 Mundos.

Foi uma sorte eu ter lido anteriormente um outro livro que explicava o mundo dos Marranos o que me facilitou e muito a compreensão...more
Ok it was a little weird, but still interesting. This was a novel about a girl living in Spain during the Inquisition when anyone accused of being a Jew in hiding was killed, whether they really were a Jew or not (there was no fair trial, no nothing). It was a lot like the Salem witch trials in that neighbors accused each other and once someone was accused they were a goner. I did not know that things were that bad during that era of history so in that way it was very informative, and I learned...more
So I wasn't convinced this was the Spanish Inquisition. I mean, clearly, that is when it is supposed to be set, but something about the language and the freedom enjoyed by Estrella and Catalina just didn't feel like 1500s to me. The language was also just too flippant.

That said, it was certainly a compelling (and short) book. Seriously, it was less than 2 hours concentrated reading in a period of 7 hours total. It was not very complex, but well done.

I think my favorite passages all had to do wit...more
Leander Grogan
This woman creeps me out in a good way. Her simplicity is masterful. In Incantations she sets you up with a young girl's innocent observations.

Like this paragraph:
"At first I thought the soldiers were burning doves. White things were rising into the sky. I felt so sad for those poor burning birds, then I realized the burning pile was made of books. Pages flew upward, disappearing, turning to embers and ash, drifting into nothingness."

And then slowly you find out the ominous reason they were bur...more
Jonna Doughty
Now, don't get me wrong, I love Alice Hoffman; she's one of my favorite writers! But if I'd been introduced to her writing through this YA novel, I don't believe I'd have continued reading her work.
Incantation is set during The Spanish Inquisition, and 15-year-old Estrella is discovering things about herself and her family that turn her world upside down. The novel tries to be magical, yet never quite reaches that point. Hoffman's usual poetic style seems stilted in this work, and while the bas...more
Christine Greeley
A very quick read, perfect for a rainy weekend.

This is a historical novel, about a young girl and her family. They are Jews living as Christians during the Spanish Inquisition era. Such a sad story of betrayal, human cruelty and ultimately survival. I actually got teary-eyed at the end of this book, which is unusual for me! I read lots of horror, fantasy and mystery/thriller type books, but when it comes to horror, nothing compares to the reality of how cruel humans have been (and continue to b...more
Mar 22, 2014 Ktriplett rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Ktriplett by: My aunt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mia Tat
I got this book as part of a "blind date book" program that my local library sponsored. The description they had on the front cover, that it talked about historical fiction, religion, and mysticism, made it sound like it was up my alley.

I ended up enjoying it, and the only reason I didn't give it five stars is that it was a little TOO simplistic. For people my daughter's age, reading this story of the evils of Jewish persecution in the time of Columbus's Spain would have been perfect, and just...more
Alice Hoffman is a wonderful storyteller. "Incantation" takes place during Inquisition Spain of the 15th century when even Jews who converted to Christianity (Conversos) were severely persecuted. This is such a beautiful story of love, friendship, and courage--written in Alice Hoffman's magical, lyrical way that captivates and enchants every time. I read this in one day. It was that good!
I read this book in a single day, just like my mother said I would. The reason I gave this book four stars instead of five is because the writing tends to be very simplistic and repetitive in places, which is a pet peeve of mine, but the imagery is stunning. I can guarantee that you will be sucked in from the very first page and horrified (at what the characters go through) by the last.
I appreciated the time period and perspective of this book (15th century girl during the Spanish Inquisition) but ultimately found it sort of lacking. It isn't a very long book, but I think that that might be the problem.

(view spoiler)...more
Kristen Chandler
Estrella is a Marrano: During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, she is one of a community of Spanish Jews living double lives as Catholics. And she is living in a house of secrets, raised by a family who practices underground the ancient and mysterious way of wisdom known as kabbalah. When Estrella discovers her family's true identity--and her family's secrets are made public--she confronts a world she's never imagined, where new love burns and where friendship ends in flame and ash,...more
Incantation by Alice Hoffman was a young adult novel, about a young girl Estrella in Spain during an increasing religious conflict. During the course of the novel she learns several heartbreaking lessons about who she is, who her friends are, and the injustices arouf her. A very lyrically written novel.
Laura McHale Holland
Always an Alice Hoffman fan, I recently read Incantation, a short book written for the young adult audience. Set in Spain during the Inquisiiton, the central character is Estrella, a teenager who learns over the course of the story that hers is a Jewish family that is Catholic on the surface only. Her world is torn apart as she, her family and their community are exposed and persecuted. She swiftly finds out who her friends are and aren't. I am intrigued by stories in which extraordinary circums...more
Emily Green
I absolutely loved this book. It was a very easy read and the way the author writes is just beautiful. I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters and the way the story twisted and surprised me. I felt excited, happy, sad, scared and hopeful several times and just loved it!
(Historical Fiction 2007) Estrella deMadrigal is sixteen in the early 1500's in Spain. She has a best friend, a mother, and grandparents. She also finds out she has a secret - her family are Jews during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. And, unfortunately, the young man she falls in love with is her best friend's intended spouse. All this comes together in a most explosive way, as the secret life of the Jewish people in her area is exposed and the inquisitioners arrive. As I expect from an Al...more
This was a quick read and I picked it up wanting something light and uplifting since it's Alice Hoffman, but this book was unexpectedly dark and full of forebodings. It was such a sad book filled with terrible loss. Perhaps had I realized that this book is set in a small village right in the middle of the Spanish Inquisition, I may not have read it. But I'm glad I did. I loved the organization of the book into 10 chapters that ties into the 10 gates in her dreams. I love the interconnectedness o...more
I really liked this book. For kids that are interested in historical fiction and like more gritty reads, this book is for them. It is a look at the way Jews were treated in 17th century Spain.
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What's The Name o...: YA historical novel [s] 4 39 Jun 04, 2013 02:15PM  
What does Incantation teach you? 1 13 May 17, 2013 05:27PM  
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Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York...more
More about Alice Hoffman...
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“If every life is a river, then it's little wonder that we do not even notice the changes that occur until we are far out in the darkest sea. One day you look around and nothing is familiar, not even your own face.
My name once meant daughter, grandaughter, friend, sister, beloved. Now those words mean only what their letters spell out; Star in the night sky. Truth in the darkness.
I have crossed over to a place where I never thought I'd be. I am someone I would have never imagined. A secret. A dream. I am this, body and soul. Burn me. Drown me. Tell me lies. I will still be who I am.”
“Just because something is unspoken doesn't mean that it disappears.” 149 likes
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