The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson doesn’t contain as much magic as one might assume based on the title, but it is a reasonably paced book full of stories big and small that illuminate the nuances of black and white relationships in that era. The book is mainly set in post World War II Mississippi, but you get a glimpse of New York as well.
The story, which is inspired by real life events, features a young lawyer named Regina Robichard who works for the famed Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York. Regina ends up travelling to a small town in Mississippi to investigate the murder of a black solider, a murder that was inexplicably ruled an accident. Every piece of available evidence points to murder at the hands of local white men and with the help of the dead soldier’s father, a few other colorful characters and the author of one of her favorite children’s books, Regina make it her mission to find out what really happened.
As I said before, the book does not contain much magic. At least not in the way you might expect in say, a J. California Cooper story. In The Secret of Magic there’s more like a whisper of magic that seems to be closely linked to the wonders of nature and how man fits into that.
Johnson dawdles in certain places. At times, the reader gets a little too much physical detail about minor characters and locations. It’s great to have rich detail and feel fully immersed in a scene, but sometimes, excessive detail feels like a weight that slows down the pace of a story.
Overall though, it is a book that is worth the read, especially for people interested in that time period. Genealogy buffs might also take a particular liking to The Secret of Magic because there’s a lot of layered and complex family stories. Pretty much every main character has some type of interesting family tale.
The Secret of Magic was released earlier this year and is on bookstands now. Have you read it yet?