Book Review: Magic by Mike Russell

Magic is the kind of book you read when you need to feel happy. It will whisk you away to a strange world so much like our own, but also so different.

Does magic exist? Charlie Watson thinks it does and he wants to tell you all about it. Before he was famous, Charlie Watson decided to write a book to share with the world everything he knew about magic. This is that book. You will discover why Charlie always wears a top hat, why his house is full of rabbits, how magic wands are made, how the universe began, and much, much more. Plus, for the first time, Charlie tells of the strange events that led him from England to the Arctic, to perform the extraordinary feat that made him famous, and he finally reveals whether that extraordinary feat was magic or whether it was just a trick. Magic is a magic novel by Mike Russell.

(Description from Amazon)

My favorite thing about this novel is that it never loses hope. The main character Charlie struggles with the idea that maybe magic isn’t real, and it causes him to slip into depression. In this novel they call it, the pull of the hole, because the Arctic and Antarctic have holes in them that lead all the way through the Earth and spit out the other side. Everyone who doesn’t believe in Magic feels the pull of the hole, and many people who feel it jump in and die. But, even when Charlie feels the pull he doesn’t give up. At one point Charlie says,

“If you jump into the hole-through-the-Earth, you’ll never know what might have happened if you hadn’t. Something amazing might have happened! Something more amazing than anything you could have imagined!”

That really resonated with me because suicide is a hard subject. My family has experienced its aftermath like many others and the pain never truly goes away. These words are right, if you end it you’ll never know what could have happened.

At first, I didn’t really like Charlie because he was gullible and child-like, but he did grow on me, and I often found myself feeling bad for him. He believes in lies that were told to him by one of the only people that treated him with dignity and it all comes crashing down. Mike Russell does a fantastic job of setting Charlie up for disappointment, but not making him a miserable character. Charlie’s life starts to come crashing down when he visits a magic show, I knew it wasn’t going to end well when he said,

“It’s a ridiculous thing to think because a magician would never do that. A magician would never trick an audience.”

I knew in that moment I was about to watch a train wreck, but Charlie never becomes a hard character to read, even when he feels the pull of the hole.

Russell also does a great job of setting up a world adjacent to our own. Everything is pretty much the same but a few key elements are different. The book opens with a different telling of the Big Bang, it starts like this,

“Before the universe existed, there was a giant, black, upside-down top hat surrounded by empty, black nothingness. There was nothing inside the top hat and there was nothing outside the top hat. The top hat was all there was, except for the nothingness. And the nothingness went on forever.”

I love when authors retell either the story of creation or the Big Bang to set up their worlds, because it creates familiarity. I know I’m entering a world similar to mine even though it might not be the same. Russell does a fantastic job of bridging that gap between our reality and the reality of this book.

I wasn’t too fond of this story being told through Charlie’s diary, because the character is a rambler and he seems like an unreliable narrator. The book seems like it’s going to end, then doesn’t. While I’m glad it doesn’t actually end because the novel has a fabulous ending, I didn’t like the feeling of okay, we’re done, just kidding. It was a roller coaster of strange anticipation that was more of a distraction than interesting. But, I will say that through Charlie’s writing Russell makes a really good point. Charlie/Russell writes,

“These words that I’m writing are showing it all to you in your mind. That’s what words can do. I describe something using words and you see what I’m describing in your mind.”

I love this quote because it’s so true, and perfectly expresses the idea of storytelling. Writing is magic, because somehow authors are able to transport their vision into your mind.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Magic earns a 4/5 stars. Thank you to Mike Russell and Jay from StrangeBooks for reaching out to me.

What do you think of this book? Let me know in the comments.

Interested in buying a copy of Magic? If you purchase by using my affiliate link below (the image), at no extra cost to you I will get a portion of the proceeds.

Published by

Savannah Worman

My name is Savannah, you can call me Sav. I am a recent Oregon State graduate, Siletz tribal member, and aspiring book critic. Join me on this exploration of the literary world around us. You’re sure to find something you like. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments feel free to hit me up on the contact page! I live in the Pacific Northwest with my boyfriend, my Havanese/Aussie Shepard Stark, my Jack Russell/Shih Tzu Daenerys, and my son Finn.

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