Winner of the National Book Award: In the shadow of the Holocaust, a young girl discovers the power of magic
In the schoolroom of a simple European village, Kicsi spends her days dreaming of the lands beyond the mountains: Paris and New York, Arabia and Shanghai. When the local rabbi curses Kicsi’s school for teaching lessons in Hebrew, the holy tongue, the possibility of adventure seems further away than ever. But when a mysterious stranger appears telling stories of far-off lands, Kicsi feels the world within her grasp.
His name is Vörös, and he is a magician’s assistant who seems to have powers all his own. There is darkness growing at the edge of the village—a darkness far blacker than any rabbi’s curse. Vörös warns of the Nazi threat, but only Kicsi hears what he says. As evil consumes a continent, Vörös will teach Kicsi that sometimes the magician’s greatest trick is survival.
Set in a small Hungarian town, The Red Magician is about Kicsi and her family whose village is visited by the Magician Vörös, bringing warnings and bad tidings. Because of this, the Rabbi of the town forbade Vörös to ever visit again. Despite it, Kicsi, who is the only one who believe him, does her best to help.
I loved the relationship of Vörös and Kichi. How they are both drawn to each other, despite the years of suffering and separation. Not as lovers, or father and daughter, but as kindred souls who find a connection.
This book is about a girl’s self discovery. Learning about love, survival and herself. Although it takes the reader throughout the Holocaust, it has a different take on it, peppering it with alot of magic realism. Vörös and the village Rabbi are both magician and Kicsi herself learns some form of magic.
The story telling is touching as the author draws the reader to the horrors of a concentration camp through Kicsi’s eyes. There were scenes in the book that made me teary eyed. The book is a great read with themes like anger, revenge and dealing with sorrow and loss. It is about never forgetting the victims of the Holocaust. But more than that, it is about hope, faith and life and it will ask that from you as Kicsi strives to survive.
“Why do you care?” said Kicsi suddenly, fiercely. Someone in the barracks began to cry. “If you hate people so much why don’t you just kill yourself? Make it easier for them?”
“Why?” The gray-haired woman grinned triumphantly. “To spite them, that’s why. Every day I stay alive is a victory. I don’t worry about tomorrow.”
“I try to stay alive because- well, so I can tell someone,” said Rachel. “To be a witness”
-Chapter 6, The Red Magician
Thank you to Net Galley and Open Road Media for the ARC.