On the cover of Orson Scott Card’s (The Memory Of Earth, Xenocide, Speaker of The Dead) latest novel, Magic Street, it states, “The long awaited contemporary fantasy novel from the best-selling author of Ender’s Game.” Well, I’ve never read any of his novels so I didn’t go in feeling burnt out or jaded like long time fans can sometimes get. Nor did I go in with any pretense that this was going to change my life. I was just a blank canvas waiting to experience the book for what it was, on its own merits.
Magic Street is a stand-alone urban fantasy that takes place in a peaceful and prosperous African American neighborhood in Los Angeles. Dr. Byron Williams picks up a homeless man named “Bagman” (he has the ability to temporarily force people to do what he wants them to) on the side of the road, and along the way Williams feels like he was hypnotized by the old homeless man to do things he didn’t want to do. When he gets home, Williams finds that his wife was instantly pregnant (like coming to full term with a baby within an hour. How’s that for a gestation period!). She gives birth to a baby boy. Bagman eventually shows up at William’s home and takes the baby and puts him in a paper bag. This is how Mack Street comes to be.
Mack grows up to be an odd but decent kid, and no one could know his connection to Bagman. Not even Cecil “Ceese” Tucker, who found Mack in the shopping bag, can believe how these dreams that are flowing into his head slip out in a bizarrely twisted manner. But who is putting these ideas in Mack’s head?
It’s also a story of how a neighborhood bands together (with a character found in a magical realm) to fight the evil lurking on their block.
Overall, this is a really interesting read. The pace is fast and it had me turning the pages rather quickly. The writing is crisp and clear and the characters are colorful and ring true. It’s an interesting first time read for me, though older fans of Card might recommend earlier efforts. To me, this was excellent in a cool, fun, and bizarre way.