A superb magical tribute to fathers, sons, and those who love them.


An Ordinary Magic

A supernatural thriller about a priest, his wayward son, and the voodoo sorcerer who could exploit their secret.

The Caribbean fishing town of La Croix has seen a decrease in tourism lately. This summer, a monstrous storm approaches, bringing unbearable humidity. While the older generation sees the storm in terms of angry spirits and evil omens, the young people don’t believe in magic. Jaime—son of Panon, a respected priest—only wants to work, raise money, and move to America, where riches and modernity await. He wants nothing to do with his father’s profession. The rift between father and son widens when the government is overthrown and Jaime risks his life as cheap labor during the new government’s reconstruction. Because Panon carries a secret regarding Jaime’s birth, he’s afraid to ask his patron spirit, Dela Luamba, for help. He goes instead to the new sorcerer of La Croix, Bougné, who has moved into the jungle shack of Uzoma, the previous sorcerer, who died under suspicious circumstances. Will the enchanted contents of a wooden box help Panon bring Jaime back into the fold—or is something darker afoot, better fought with a touch of ordinary magic? Author Thibeault (co-author: Recommend This!, 2014, etc.) beats a steady, foreboding drum in this unique supernatural thriller. He concocts a sinister atmosphere early on, during the government coup: “flashes of light in the distance...merged into a single glow, as if the world itself burned.” The spirit Dela Luamba brings some humor to the tale in snarky missives between chapters and in communion with Panon: “You’re such a good dancer. And you have a sexy ass.” Thibeault deftly explores both the father’s and son’s perspectives, including Jaime’s frustration with magic: “People danced and shook when they should have been discussing the matters at hand.” The story’s latter half is a claustrophobic jungle crawl punctuated by scenes of voodoo horror. In the end, the ordinary magic steering Thibeault’s incredible narrative is Dela Luamba’s to vouch for.

A superb magical tribute to fathers, sons, and those who love them.

Pub Date: March 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1935893349

Page Count: 354

Publisher: Dime Novel Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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