I’m not usually in favour of introductions to fiction. I think the first chapter should speak for itself. However, in the case of this novel, I’m going to make an exception. The introduction doesn’t introduce the book; it introduces the narrator. It sets the tone, the writing style, and the personality perfectly. So, don’t skip the introduction. You’ll be glad you read it.
In fact, I find myself making a lot of exceptions when I talk about this book, because Mr. Russell breaks a lot of the rules. To be exact, it’s not Mr. Russell that’s breaking the rules, it’s the narrator, Charlie Watson. We soon forget all about whoever Mr. Russell is because we become immersed in Charlie’s story and Charlie’s thoughts and feelings.
And Charlie is not a usual person. He is difficult to define. In the old days, he would have been called an idiot savant, harsh as that sounds. He is a simple soul of limited intelligence and a special brand of widespread wisdom. He is likeable, thoughtful, and loving in his simple way. He is an ideal and idealistic human being, and because of this he always rises above the woes that the world throws at him.
And then there’s the magic. As Charlie goes through the journey of his exploration of magic, he redefines the concept constantly: part philosophy, part metaphysics, part psychology, and always fantastical.
My only problem with Charlie is that he talks too much. Because he sees thing simply, he always explains concepts from the very bottom up, never assuming any prior knowledge on the part of the reader, because he has none himself. At times I found myself devouring every word intently. At others I found myself skipping through huge quantities of long paragraphs, scanning topic sentences to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Which probably means I did miss something, but there you have it.
Highly recommended for anyone who wants a fresh, imaginative look at the magic of the world and the depth of the human soul.
(5 / 5)