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Jilo (Witching Savannah) by J. D. Horn
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Jilo (Witching Savannah)

by J. D. Horn

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Although Jilo is the 4th book in the Witching Savannah series, it is actually the prequel to the first three.The Taylors, a family of Savannah witches with a large home on Forsythe Park, is the focus of the first three books. Jilo is a character in these books, too, but she is an elderly black witch descended from a long line of females practicing hoodoo magic. There is animosity between Jilo and the Taylors but we don't know the origins until this book. This novel begins with Jilo as a young child in the 1930s being raised by her grandmother, who keeps Jilo ignorant of the magic she possesses. However, events transpire that the magic comes to her when she is middle-age when her family and friends are threatened.

I have a special love for this series since it is set in Savannah, my home away from home. If you have not read any novel in the series, I would recommend that you begin with Jilo and then proceed to The Line, which is the first book in the series. I believe that if I had done this I might have understood better some of Jilo's hatred of the Taylors. ( )
  John_Warner | Jun 23, 2017 |
It's been a little over a year now since I first discovered J.D. Horn. Soon after I joined Kindle Unlimited, I came across the first book in the Witching Savannah series, The Line. I was intrigued from the get-go. From the setting--Savannah, Georgia--to the story line of a family where the supernatural run deep. The main character is from a family of powerful witches, yet she has no powers. It's in this book that you first meet Jilo. From the first book, you are spell bound by her character. And that's what drove me to read Horn's latest novel, Jilo.

Fear not my friends, if you are new to this series Jilo is a prequel to The Line, so you won't be jumping into the middle of the story. In the Witching Savannah series you get to know the Taylor family, but in Jilo, you to know the Wills family. Before you get to know Jilo, you get to know her grandmother, May. The Wills family has been surrounded by magic for generations. But they don't embrace it. Each generation warns the other about it, yet somehow the magic is forced upon them. It's not until May is approached by an abominable man, she learns the reason why her mother tried to keep her from it. However, May, just like her mother, tries to protect her grandchildren from it too. But the powers recognize that Jilo is no ordinary little girl and they want her for their own.

And beyond the mystical powers that long for Jilo, there's also the world that Jilo is so desperately trying to find her place in. Jilo had ambitions that for 1950's Georgia are a bit too forward thinking. Jilo also navigates the rocky road of relationships and after her grandmother dies, trying to keep her family together. All this with unnatural forces lurking around every corner.

In this book the audience gets to see the circumstances that made Jilo into Jilo. The good and the bad. Through Jilo's eyes, we get to see the tumultuous South as it changes. And let's not forget that Savannah is a character in itself. Horn writes his characters with gusto and realism, you feel as if you you might see Mother Jilo in a graveyard while walking down the street in Savannah. J.D. Horn is master storyteller. If you are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, you can read this series for free, if not, his books in this series are currently priced at $1.99. Which is a steal! So go ahead and treat yourself!

Read more at http://www.toreadornottoread.net/2016/09/review-jilo-by-jd-horn.html#8sIxPWC6jzk... ( )
  mt256 | Sep 20, 2016 |
I’ve liked Jilo as a major character in the Witching Savannah Series as a powerful and clearly complex figure. She has awesome potential and we have a lot of allusions to a long and complex history. The problem is that this series is not about her, it was all about Mercy. Jilo’s relationship with Mercy has been very complex but, on the whole, it has been one of mentor and student. Or an almost maternal relationship. There are times when Jilo even refers to herself as Mercy’s mother figure

Of course, that’s a trope. It’s certainly a trope with an elderly Black woman with a young white lady in Savannah.

That made this book extremely necessary. It’s a book that focuses not just entirely on Jilo’s history but also on her family history and her magic as well. I think that’s extremely necessary because Mercy’s family has also been very much about her family history and the importance and uniqueness of her magic. By talking about Jilo’s family and relationship with magic we put her on an equal level of importance and value as Mercy

It also allows a wonderful expansion of the world building with us seeing magical systems and sources beyond Mercy’s family’s relationship with the Line and the Old Ones – and it’s equally as powerful while being completely different. Jilo’s family’s relationship with the Beekeeper and the old powers is only tangentially created related to the kind of magic that Mercy’s family practices. This shows there is magic beyond Mercy’s magic and that there are magical struggles and storylines that do not involve them. This is not Jilo playing a part in Mercy’ storyline. This is not Jilo living a lesser for of Mercy’s storyline. This is Jilo having an entirely separate magical storyline which doesn’t involve the Taylor family at all

Jilo’s family history goes back 3 generations – and it goes back 3 generations of Black people in Savannah, following them through the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and onwards. While this includes a lot of fascinating insight into the magical system and the desperate struggle each generation has faced to try and turn away from magic but inevitably be drawn back, it is equally a story of race in America and it permeates every element of the family’s story including the supernatural elements

We have rich white sorcerers who feel entitled to Jilo’s family’s magic and service, who constantly exploit and use them every generation and get away with it due to their wealth and race and power. As antagonists they are inherently people who force Jilo’s family to turn to magic time and again because in a system that makes them so vulnerable how else can the possibly protect themselves?

While that’s a common driving force for them seeking magic or being forced to resort to magic so is the simple realities of living in a racist, segregated time. The magic they have to turn to too survive not just against threats – but also economically. There’s Jilo’s grandmother, raising 4 young girls and increasingly too old to perform the hard physical labour of cleaning – magic, despite all her misgivings, provides an income when she has few other options.

That’s a definite part of Jilo’s own storyline that is defined by this. A single mother with no income and no chance to use her education. And she had an education and brilliant ambitions – but not chance to become the doctor she dreamed as a Black woman (flatly told that there were very few chances for Black doctors – and those choices should go to Black men who can actually help their community). Even her accent that seemed so stereotypical in the main books is revealed to be creation, along with the whole persona of “Mother Jilo”. In all, Jilo is a brilliant woman from a line of brilliant women – intelligent, wise, capable and determined – facing insurmountable obstacles and carrying on.

I also like that while race permeates their story, it isn’t the only obstacles they have faced, and it’s above and beyond the magical obstacles they face. They have both economic hurdles and even as simple as Jilo’s terrible terrible taste in men who have used her and failed her and exploited her time and time again. Jilo has led a hard life, not just from magic and not just from being Black but also from being a Black woman and with more than a few men willing to use her. Including these excellent lines when a man asks if Jilo’s child is his:

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  FangsfortheFantasy | May 15, 2016 |
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