Friday, July 17, 2015

The Secret Of Magic by Deborah Johnson

3 Star

Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.

As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun’s The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.

Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past.

Kathryn - 3 Star

I found the trails of the story in The Secret of Magic a little complicated- there were a number of characters and the names seemed to get muddled for me. I also found the many descriptions of places (and the novel within the novel) to be a bit too much detail so the story ended up lagging a bit while I tried to envision the town and characters.

I didn’t really warm to Regina, although the points where she was thinking or describing the relationship with her mother and deceased father made her more alive for me. I wish we’d had a bit more time with her mother and seen the relationship between them. Ida obviously felt her daughter deserved the highest education she could afford and there seemed to be a mutual respect between them- I wish we’d had a chance to see them together. I was also interested in her step-father as he seemed to also be a sympathetic figure.  If I’d had a bit more of Regina’s background I think I would have become more solidly invested in the rest of the characters. The one person I really felt warmth for in this novel was Joe Howard and I wonder if this is because it was loosely based on feelings the author had for her own grandfather?

Despite my lack of attachment to the main characters I found that the plot itself, the injustice and the seeking of justice were intense and made real by the author’s detailed accounts. I eagerly read the author’s notes at the end of the novel to try and place which pieces were true to fact or may have happened.  The time period was horrific for many reasons but there was a glimmer of hope brought out by this novel that made it inspired.

Thank you to Amy Einhorn Books for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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