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The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein
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The Red Magician (1982)

by Lisa Goldstein

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Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I'm a bit ashamed because it took me a year to read it after I got a copy from Netgalley even though it is such a short story.

Kicsi grows up in a small Jewish village in central Europe, and the story starts as something between a fable and mythology, interweaving Jewish folklore and magic in the story. Although I didn't like that part as much as I thought I would, it was the second half that really confused me.

Vörös warns them for the danger and it is clear that the story takes place around the second world war. But all of a sudden, there are a few chapters with the characters in a concentration camp to end with more magic. It felt very weird, not in the least because I can not believe that no matter how small their village was they would not have noticed anything from the Nazi regime at all before they were taken away to the camps. Also, the part of Kicsi in the camp felt somehow out of place or maybe rushed. It left me with an uncomfortable feeling.

The main feeling I had when reading, and certainly after I finished was that I didn't really understand the story. I feel like I missed something very important and now all I feel is confused. I'm not sure what the message is the book was trying to convey. I still have another book by Lisa Goldstein which I will certainly give a chance, because the best part of The Red Magician was certainly the writing. That was really beautiful.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
Kicsi is a young girl on the cusp of becoming a teenager. She lives in a small village full of family and is a devout Hebrew. The man with the most authority in their village seems to be their local rabbi, who seems more interested in maintaining is own power and sense of worth than actually helping the community. This is evident from the way he deals with the local school that insists on teaching the children Hebrew. Upset that the school refuses to stop their instruction, and upset that the families refuse to leave the school, the rabbi places a curse on the school. Apparently, being a very wise Jewish leader means you are also a magician in this world as we see the same is true when a stranger named Voros comes to town. Voros is a red haired magician who is wise and well versed in Hebrew lore. He lifts the curse placed by the rabbi, but gains him as an enemy. In the backdrop of all of this is WW2 which soon comes to the forefront when soldiers appear at Kicsi’s door.

Readers go into it thinking the red magician will be the main character, or the focus, yet they might be disappointed to find that it is Kicsi that runs the story. She propels all of the events and Voros, the magician, is merely a secondary character that appears when Kicsi’s need is great, almost like a deux ex machina. This was a very interesting book, though the cover makes it seem much more mysterious than it is, and the synopsis makes it sound much more action packed than it is. The Red Magician is a solid, well written book that should do very well with the ten to fifteen year old crowd. It’s a superficial introductory look into the horrors of the Holocaust which have been muted for the target audience.

//I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review//
The Red Magician Review was originally published on By Lulu with Love ( )
  heylu | Mar 4, 2016 |
Here, Goldstein brings the feel of the mythopoeic into a WWII story.

Kisci is a young Jewish girl who's never been outside her insular, rural community. She longs to experience the wider world, and when a red-haired traveler comes to town, he captures her imagination, even though his warnings of doom are nothing anyone wants to hear. The local rabbi insists that the traveler is an enemy, and works himself up to a raging vendetta against him, ignoring evil omens... and the source of the real threat.

However, soon enough, the outside world will encroach on Kisci's village in a way that none of her neighbors could believe. War is on the way...

Traditional Jewish folklore is prominent, with the myth of the Wandering Jew and the legend of the Golem woven into the narrative. The format of the story is a familiar fantasy: the battle between two powerful wizards. But, while crafting a fairy tale; the story deals with historical horrors with a delicate yet moving touch.

Recommended: this story is a bit what I expected Jane Yolen's 'Briar Rose' (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/10632913) to be like.

I've only previously read one other book by Goldstein, and I much preferred this one. (I'm glad that, when deciding to read this, I actually hadn't remembered that I'd read it - I might not have chosen to, and I would've missed out!)

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me the opportunity to read this novel. As always, my opinions are my own. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |

The pacing in this is very uneven. It seems the author has spent a lot more time on the first third of the book than the rest, and more time on the middle part than the final third. ( )
  StigE | Sep 15, 2015 |
This is the story of Kicsi, an Eastern European Jew, and Vörös, a magician trying to save her village from the Nazis. I've had a heavy interest in Holocaust stories ever since I read The Diary of Anne Frank in middle school. I accidentally bought two copies of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because the blurb on the back made me want to start reading immediately. So, when I read the synopsis for The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein, on Netgalley, I requested it right away.

Unfortunately, I can only give this book four stars. Everything about it is great, but it didn't grab me emotionally. I never shed a tear for any of the characters. I even questioned if perhaps I'd become desensitized to these types of stories, though I know I haven't. I still don't know what is missing from this book to explain why I didn't ugly cry the way I did over The Book Thief, as well as so many other stories that take place during WWII.

I still recommend reading this book, though. As I've already said, it's a great book. The plot, pacing, and quality of writing are all excellent. It would be a good choice to couple with The Diary of Anne Frank in middle school English classes.
( )
  FortifiedByBooks | Apr 8, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312890079, Paperback)

Winner of the 1983 American Book Award, The Red Magician was an immediate classic.

On the eve of World War II, a wandering magician comes to a small Hungarian village prophesying death and destruction. Eleven-year-old Kicsi believes Vörös, and attempts to aid him in protecting the village.

But the local rabbi, who possesses magical powers, insists that the village is safe, and frustrates Vörös's attempts to transport them all to safety. Then the Nazis come and the world changes.

Miraculously, Kicsi survives the horrors of the concentration camp and returns to her village to witness the final climactic battle between the rabbi and the Red Magician, the Old World and the New.

The Red Magician is a notable work of Holocaust literature and a distinguished work of fiction, as well as a marvelously entertaining fantasy that is, in the end, wise and transcendent.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:12 -0400)

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