Voodoo Shack by Terri Martin

Review by Nikki MItchell

Voodoo Shack: A Michigan Mystery by Terri Martin is a delightful story of adventure, suspense, and just being a kid. Iris and her friends hang out in an abandoned shack that belonged to Mr. Hazard. The kids name it the Voodoo Shack.

The story follows Iris as she skirts her duties at home—household chores and a blasted book report–to find the missing treasure that Mr. Hazard buried before his “demise,” as the kids call it.

Martin paints a wonderful picture of what childhood is like, and I felt like I was Iris’ age again, snooping around and spying on the neighbors and other people in my small town, with my best friend. Voodoo Shack is told in such a true childhood perspective. Even down to the language of the young characters. Phrases like “I’d rather eat worms than…” made me laugh because of their accuracy.

The story unfolds even more when Iris and Tobey sneak out to head to the shack, only to find Ol’ Lady Hazard snooping around the shack with a shovel. When she leaves, she drops a piece of paper on the ground with a poem regarding the missing loot.

Iris and her friends bicker about what the poem means, but Iris knows exactly what it is. It’s a treasure map. And she’s determined to find it.

The family dynamics in the book are so realistic, and part of me wanted Gran to give Iris a chance to be a kid, but the adult in me also understood Gran’s perspective. The innocence of Iris’ point of view hits home when Gran falls ill and Iris questions if it’s because Gran is always worrying about her. But then the imagination kicks in and Iris is sure that it was Ol’ Lady Hazard who made Gran fall ill, and the second half of the book follows Iris as she sets out to prove it. This was a perfect balance of how a child’s mind works.

Due to the vernacular used, I did picture the setting to be down south in a swampy Louisiana town instead of Michigan. However, this didn’t take away from the book at all, just how I pictured it in my mind.

Voodoo Shack reminded me so much of To Kill a Mockingbird, which is still one of my absolute favorite books. Iris is so much like Scout, and Ol’ Lady Hazard was depicted a lot like Boo Radley in the beginning. Iris is so sure that she’s a witch and trying to harm everyone she comes in contact with.

While on the surface, the book is a treasure-hunting mystery, it’s full of family values, a coming-of-age story, and finding yourself despite small-town gossip. Voodoo Shack would make a wonderful addition to any school or home library and would be a great tale for a book club.




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