Regular price: $24.50

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.

Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.

As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun's The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.

Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past.

The Secret of Magic brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.

©2014 Deborah Johnson (P)2014 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Johnson offers a completely engaging southern gothic with unforgettable characters in this fictionalized account of a pivotal NAACP case from the 1940s." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    45
  • 4 Stars
    32
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    53
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    25
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bill Fold
  • columbus, ms United States
  • 02-10-14

A dynamic story about Southerners, black & white

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It's a well-written story that is captivating and touching about race relations in 1945 Mississippi. It's not "in-your-face" or race-biased. It tells of good and bad, black and white. Johnson is able to reveal the wonders and splendors of the state of Mississippi while delving into its troubled history. There is a light at the end of the race tunnel which foretells the positive evolution that is going-on in the South now.
Living in Mississippi today, I am happy to see so many people of all races reading and loving this book! You will too.

What other book might you compare The Secret of Magic to and why?

The obvious answer is To Kill A Mockingbird because it portrays the love, respect, and bond that all good people, black and white, have for each other in the South. It contrasts this with the hatred, stupidity, and cruel acts of others. Combined, they make for a good and rewarding reading.

What about Peter Francis James’s performance did you like?

His voice is clear and easy to understand. He shifts easily between black and white voices without stereotyping.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me want to read Johnson's next book.

Any additional comments?

When is the movie coming-out?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

John Grisham and Judge Constance Baker Motley would be proud

I was surprised that a book written by a woman with two female protagonists was read by a man, but he did an excellent job. The story was wonderful and very evocative of the time it's based in.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I didn't want it to end!

What made the experience of listening to The Secret of Magic the most enjoyable?

Deborah Johnson's writing is so amazingly vivid. It's like I was watching a movie. I can't wait until the movie comes out, by the way. I love the story. I loved every detail of this book, and usually I like to skim over some details.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I found all the characters interesting. Often in a book there will be a character about whom I am not intrigued or disgusted. I was intrigued by all her characters. I cared about them all.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. I wanted to savor it for a long time. I wish it hadn't ended.

Any additional comments?

Peter Francis James is unbelievable!!!! I have never heard a better narrator. Every character sounded like their gender, their social status, their personality... And I loved the way they all sounded. I don't know how James did it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What a winner!

What did you love best about The Secret of Magic?

Johnson has created an evocative story of life in 1940's Mississippi, which not only seems to faithfully capture the flavour of the time and space, but also draws the listener into a "can't put it down" first class mystery. Though dealing with difficult subjects and episodes, she manages to avoid sensationalism, or graphic descriptions of human excess -- a rare find in contemporary writing, but one I appreciated. One of my best 'reads' in some time -- highly recommended.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Stop, look and listen...."

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous book!

This book is wonderfully written and expertly narrated. I have recommended it to several friends and have read it at least three times myself. I LOVE it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

People's justice

This book is based on a real case that Thurgood Marshall took on after the war. The white South still thought they could disregard civil rights of African Americans. Storyline very engrossing. A must read.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

A story that is so gripping. It leaves you always anxious to see what happens next. I really enjoyed the story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Best I have heard in a while

This story is set in 1946 ish Mississippi -- a black man on his way home from the war disappears off a bus just a few miles from home. A letter is written to Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP and our heroine -- a newly minted lawyer -- goes to investigate. She finds the people are all characters from a book she read as a child. The ending was a bit contrived, but it was a very enjoyable listen. The narrator was excellent.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written! Magnificently read!

An amazing, intriguing, wonderful, and glorious read!!! "The Secret of Magic" will be with me the remainder of my life. And Mr. Willie Willie and Ms. Regina Robixhard will remain in my heart, as will Miss Mary Pickett.

Mr. Peter Francis James is the most fantastic narrator! His reading of "Devil in the Grove" was outstanding, as it is here! I actually found this book when searching for others he may have narrated. How could I turn down another book with Mr. James' rendition of Mr. Thurgood Marshall? Wonderful. Just wonderful. I highly recommend both these books -- they changed my life. Truly.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Wimp1128
  • ROCHESTER, NEW YORK, United States
  • 06-13-14

Interesting enough

What made the experience of listening to The Secret of Magic the most enjoyable?

The magic aspect of the story was a very fun concept to read about.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The ending seemed a bit anticlimactic and the magic tie in with the book fell short to what I was initially expecting. The narrator did a decent job with the voices, but I would've liked a bit more variation to decipher who was talking(other than the character name being said)