Each year, I look forward to reading the books that are nominated for the Cybils Award and this year seemed like such a stealer year for nominations! Our short-list was probably the longest I've ever seen since I started judging. Of the 118 books nominated in speculative fiction, I read 100% of 85 books and another 6 to the half-way point. One year, I hope to be able to read all the nominations.
For today, I want to focus on a book that came my way in the middle of judging. I've included a link to my review of the first book, Kingston and the Magician's Lost and Found , which also happened to have been nominated for the Cybils. I hope you'll check it out. The story was conceived by writer Harold Hayes, Jr. and Craig S. Phillips who co-wrote the book under the pen name Rucker Moses, they were joined by Theo Gangi and wrote the books as a tribute to Benjamin Rucker, aka Black Herman, one of the greatest real-life Black magicians from the early 20th Century. Excitedly, Disney is also working on a movie based off the first book in the series.
Kingston and the Echoes of Magic by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 304
Published: October 12th, 2021
Source: Publisher via MB Communications
Opening Line: "I've been here before."
At the end of the first book, Kingston's pops remained trapped in the Realm and his one wish continued to be to find a way to bring him back to Echo City, Brooklyn. As the sequel opened, Echo City was plagued by blackouts and Kingston was having these lucid dreams, and feelings of deja vu, like he was repeating the same day over and over, to the point that he could predict what would happen next, even what people would say. Then on a train ride back to Echo City, Vernoica (V) experiences the same moment as Kingston and together they realize that they are stuck in a loop, reliving the same experiences or echos of reality, sort of like in the movie Groundhog Day. It also appeared Maestro, the magician connected to Kingston's pops disappearance, was up to his old tricks and might be the one responsible for altering their timeline, causing the time loop. They also uncovered Maestro's plan to send a comet to destroy their reality. Once again, Kingston, his cousin V and their friend Too Tall will need to return to the Realm, find pops and set things right.
Kingston and the Echoes of Magic moves along at a much faster pace than the first book, which made me love it even more. I've always liked how the authors included portals and echoes of previous time periods in the story, even if I don't understand all the magic and science behind it, it never took away from my enjoyment. It was also fun to watch the trio connect with their family in the past and see a younger version of their parents (think something like Back to the Future). This time they made some surprising discoveries, uncovered new clues, and there were some sweet reunions. I also really enjoyed learning more about Black Herman, various Italian magicians, the pieces on immortality and especially the way that the Egyptian gods were incorporated into the story. I know I'm being kind of vague, but I don't want to give too much of the story away. Truthfully, I wish these books were receiving more attention, they're exciting, packed full of magic and I loved the setting of Brooklyn, home to the pizza pie, subway and grand Mercury Theater.
** A huge thank you to G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers and MB Communications for kindly sending me my review copy. **