Welcome to our first book review! Today, we discuss a modern novel from the real magic category.
This novel was published in the spring of 2017 by Amy E Reichert. Reichert has four published books and The Simplicity of Cider is her third fiction novel. It is about a 9,000-tree apple orchard that is failing and the family that loves it. The main character is a woman named Sanna who tends the orchard with her father and rebuffs the unwanted advances of sweet-talking suitors who are really land-grabbers.
The novel’s theme is “trust yourself,” and its cliche is “boy meets girl.” The boy in this story, Issac, is a single dad looking for a way to tell his son, nicknamed Bass, that his mother died. Issac and his ex-wife were no longer together, but still, telling your kid his mom died is not an easy task. Our main character, Sanna is the guarded girl who warms to Issac and Bass over time.
Reichert masterfully weaves Sanna’s personal-magic with earth-magic. Although never explicitly stated, the characters feel the power of the oldest apple trees when emotions run high. Not only does Sanna feel the change in the air, but so does Issac. The book’s portrayal of earth magic takes a turn toward the fanciful when the trees do a very animal-like thing, but otherwise, Reichert is accurate in her descriptions of earth/plant and personal magic.
The love story is nice and entirely believable; the characters are well developed and do not deviate from their personalities. The most unrealistic aspect of the novel is how social media worked SO FAST to save a struggling business that is greatly dependant on tourism. Eh – nothing’s perfect!
The magic, however, is exceptional. The following excerpt is part of Sanna’s character development while she sampled family-heirloom cider recipes.
“As she sipped each one, an unmistakable color came to mind – different for each juice – and she finally understood the watercolor apple portraits above the fireplace. They were proof she wasn’t the only family member who could see the colors” (Reichert 17).
This is well-written magic. Not literary magic, but magic with a K. Sanna has ESP abilities beyond most people’s experience. Her magic also has a scientific name; synesthesia.
People who have synesthesia form unsolicited sensory associations. Sanna saw different colors in her mind’s eye based on the taste of various cider recipes: classic synesthesia.
Synesthesia comes in as many flavors as there are sense combinations, and in varying strengths. Some synesthetes have powerful reactions to stimuli, such that they avoid certain activities. Other synesthetes have limited reactions, perhaps only when suffering from a fever, or when they are sleep-deprived.
Point being, synesthesia is scientifically real, and real magic.
If you are curious about real earth magic, about ESP, synesthetes, or just want a rescue-romance with a magical twist, this is the book for you.
Thoughts? Questions? Criticisms?
Let’s talk about it in the comments!
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Before submitting that angry comment about “synesthesia is science, not magic,” let me just say; science does not preclude the existence of magic. When the scientific community repudiates or validates something magical, e.g. old wives’ tales, alchemy, magical herbal remedies, extra-sensory perception; the wise crafter is not diminished but strengthened.
Science and magic have a lot in common. For starters, both are hated by the church. (Cheap shots! I know.) Remember, the astrologers birthed astronomy. Science cannot take the sparkle from magic by seeking to understand it. Remember too, that alchemists lost their way in pursuit of money. Let’s not devolve into witches who lost their way in pursuit of dogma. Instead, let us grow as scientist-witches who accept tested and verified information, incorporating it into the old craft and forging a path, lit with knowledge, forward.