I was going to start with something kinda easy. Two books that I regretted not reading sooner because I know Ann had read them both, and why didn’t I read them sooner so we could discuss them? Why was I saving them?
I have a habit of that. Saving stories for when I need them. Or delaying them, in case they’re not what I hoped for. Could be both.
But this morning I finished Mister Magic by Kiersten White (out in August). And I wanted Ann to be there so much so that we could talk about it.
Val is living a small, safe life on a ranch where she’s been since she was eight years old. Her memories don’t go back any further than that. But then her dad dies, and a door opens and the past comes back.
Once upon a time she was once part of a famous children’s tv show (Mister Magic) that people are still obsessed with. A show about friendship and imagination and, yes, magic. Now, the original cast is returning to do a podcast at the original site. The gang is back together again and Val is the missing piece.
Val goes along to recover her memories and the past she’s always been afraid to probe at. Only the past is more confusing and strange than she could have expected.
Okay. so I loved this book. I’m a huge fan of Kiersten White, which I know sounds weird becauses I’ve only read two of her books now (The Guinevere Uprising and now MM.) I’ve been saving the next two books in the the Camelot Rising trilogy for years now (again with the saving of stories! What am I doing it for? There’s no point.) because I know how much I’ll love them, and yet then I will want more Arthurian stories in the same vein and there won’t be any, etc, etc. I told you it was dumb. I should just read them. Maybe they’ll prod me in the direction of returning to my own Arthurian project. Maybe.
I own Hide in hardback already. I bought it at a local bookstore this summer when I was grieving and browsing and I already wanted to read it.
But Mister Magic is just so my jam. The imagination, the guilt over what you’ve done in your childhood, the missing…the attempts to right them. The weird house in the desert, the group of friends still bound together by the story they shared, the missing memories and the strange inner grief of knowing your life could have been different.
Suffice to say, it’s good. I’ll probably buy it in hardback even though I prefer paperbacks, I just do! They’re easier to haul around with you.
More thoughts and spoilers beyond this point.
Val realizes the girl she’s always dreamed of is the younger sister she didn’t even realize she’d forgotten. The sister she lost after the final episode of Mister Magic. When she left the show because her father stole her away.
Everything here was just so painful and good. The cult in the desert. The intentional forming of children into the world that people want. The pure right way to grow up. I recognized this familiar territory even before I read the afterword where KW talked about leaving the Mormon church.
I wanted the end to be Val rescuing Kitty from that magical, manipulative place that’s held her sister all these years. I knew I wouldn’t get it.
But I’ll take the ending that happened.
Val makes a deal with the ancient magic. She returns to the show. She stays with Kitty and the other lost children. She makes it better. She keeps her friends safe, and her sister isn’t trapped alone anymore.
‘No. Val refuses to accept that. Something flares inside, an old fire long reduced to coals, brought back to life with a furious breath. It feels familiar. It feels powerful.
Val wants Kitty back more than she’s ever wanted anything in her life. If the only way she can connect with Kitty is through digging up the past, Val will make it happen. No matter what it takes. No matter what it costs.’
It’s a good ending.