Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Boy's Best Book of Magic (David Castlewitz)

A Boy's Best Book of Magic
David Castlewitz
Amazon Digital Services
Fiction, Fantasy
** (Bad)

DESCRIPTION: Joey didn't mean to buy anything at the neighbor's garage sale; he was just enjoying a day with his Grandpa Carl, away from his stern mother and angry father and a house full of shouts and rules and awful silences. But when he found the book on magic tricks, he just knew he had to have it, even if it cost him every penny of his allowance. Inside, it tells all about card tricks and making coins disappear and other sleight-of-hand staples... but there's also a strange handwritten insert full of odd symbols and foreign words. Joey reads them aloud - and suddenly everything is different. His mother no longer cries or scolds. His father no longer shouts. Joey starts to remember bits and pieces of a strange journey into the past, where he and his mother (somehow aged back to twelve years old) visited his grandfather as a boy back in the city, a trip that changed everyone's lives in unexpected ways.
A Kindle-exclusive title.

REVIEW: I really should listen to my gut the next time it says to bail out of a story early... This short tale reads like a dream, and not in a good way. Realities, pasts and presents meld together mid-paragraph, adhering to an impenetrable, sometimes contradictory internal logic. At its heart, it's a story about how one abusive man can ruin lives even generations after he struck his final blow... meaning that most of the story is about miserable people enduring miserable lives and being unable to do much about it except curl up in the corner, stuff their ears, and hope the next fist isn't aimed in their direction. If it hadn't been on Kindle, I might have thrown it across the room when this character ups the ante from simply beating his children to something worse, and again at the end. I still do not understand how the ending changed anything except ensuring even more misery (I can't get specific without spoilers), unless it's another part of what Joey forgot; his recollection of the trip is spotty at best, which made it rather frustrating to follow the convoluted tale through him. What, really, was the point of all this, except to show Joey and his mom that their lives could've been much worse?

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