Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou -- ESSENTIAL

Papademetriou, Lisa A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic, 320 pgs. HarperCollins, October 6, 2015. $16.99. Mature content: PG; Violence: PG; Language: PG (2 swears, 0 'f').

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic weaves together the stories of Kai and Leila, strangers who are outcasts in their own lives. Kai is visiting her eccentric great-aunt in Texas, while Leila is staying with relatives in Pakistan, when both girls discover identical copies of a magical book. The book seems blank, but as the summer progresses, an unseen hand adds lines to the tale a little at a time, revealing a story that will pull Kai and Leila together in ways they never could have imagined.

This is a wonderful example of magical realism. The magic itself is enchanting, and the writing is so gorgeous in places that I found myself highlighting many descriptions as I read so I could go back and enjoy them again later. Leila and Kai are both wonderful protagonists, real and vulnerable and strong in ways they never could have imagined. I found Leila's life in Pakistan particularly entrancing, since it brought that area to life for me in a way no story has done before. And, finally, without giving any spoilers, I will say that I completely adored the ending; I think I would read the entire book all over again just to repeat the sweet, magical feel evoked by the last chapters.

EL (4-6), MS -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Caryn


Ms. Yingling said...

I usually like this author, as well as books set in Pakistan, but this somehow didn't work for me. The moths? The book? Don't know.

Caryn said...

Oh, no! Sorry to hear it. I couldn't put this one down, and I loved the moths. Proof that every reader has slightly different tastes, I guess. Thanks for letting me know! I always love your comments. :-)