Monday, January 20, 2014

The Secret of Magic - Book Review

World War II has just ended and decorated war hero Joe Howard Wilson, who fought in Italy with his all-black regiment, is returning home to his father in Revere, Mississippi. But Joe will never make it home and a few weeks after he was supposed to arrive on the bus, Joe's beaten body is discovered in the river not far from home.

Regina Robichard is a young, black lawyer working in the Fund's New York office with Thurgood Marshall. When the envelope comes in the mail, she is immediately taken with the picture of the young and handsome Joe Howard. Included with the picture are newspaper clippings of his death. Regina begs Marshall for a chance to go to Mississippi to seek justice for Joe Howard.

Mississippi is a new world for Regina--a world of magical magnolia forests, old plantations and mystical deer. But it's also a land where the blacks and whites mix daily yet are kept separate by Jim Crow laws and the "way it's always been". Regina will stir up the town while she tries to discover Joe Howard's killer.

The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson instantly grabs the reader's attention with the horrific story of race violence and the irony of the time--that a soldier could serve his country, survive the war and be killed by those very people he had fought for when he returned home. It stirs up anger and frustration and a myriad of other emotions as it takes the reader back to 1945 and a time where there was little if any justice for such actions.

At the same time, Revere, Mississippi is described as a magical, beautiful place with Johnson's gifted and lovely words. She creates conflicted characters that live and breathe as real human beings within her stories. They are neither all good nor all bad. They are people living in a conflicted time working and hunting together. Loving and hating. Jealousies and insecurities. Overshadowed constantly by a feeling of entitlement and superiority and a love of all for home.

While the novel's pace slowed significantly for me in the middle, the final 100 pages are filled with overwhelming tensions and the violence and emotions kept politely beneath the surface finally explodes in a dramatic conclusion.

The Secret of Magic by the talented story-teller Deborah Johnson is worth reading and remembering and talking about. The story is not likely to leave you alone even after you turn the final pages. It will leave you thinking and wanting to share it with everyone.

The Secret of Magic is published by Amy Einhorn Books and is available on January 21, 2014.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Secret of Magic in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

1 comment:

AL said...

I have been wanting to read this book since it was named a SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) winter pick. Thanks for your review.