Save Magic City
by Rocsanne Shield

"'Let’s stop dreaming. I told you there is no magic in our world, or I would be a witch...'"

A book for the child at heart, this narrative traverses the space-time continuum, propelling banished knight Sir Edmund from fourteenth-century England to the United States in 2007. Reminiscent of the holiday film Knight Before Christmas, the story opens up with a "damsel in distress." Leona is pleading desperately with the universe to send some good fortune her way. When her adopted eight-year-old son, Leo, comes across a fully-armored Sir Edmund in a clearing nearby their home, what ensues is a story of redemption, love, time travel, and, ultimately, a beautiful father-son type bond.

In the fourteenth century, Sir Edmund, Earl of Cowill, is fueled by bitterness toward his father. He uses his passion for learning magic and grimoires with spells to acquire the powerful Enhancer sword. Drunk on the power of the sword, Edmund loses control, slaughtering his father during a practice duel and stealing a child in an attempt to force a woman into marrying him. Fed up, Lord Sloanne, among others, curses Edmund to obey one in need. At the same time, seven centuries into the future, Leona is seeing her small town crumble, hastily morphing into a ghost town upon the closing of the town's factory. The unraveling plot demonstrates that second chances can have remarkable results and that human nature is essentially redeemable.

Structurally, Shield does an effective job of keeping her audience engaged through direct dialogue between characters and prose that is clear and succinct. However, what makes the author's work creative is the subtlety with which she channels what "magic" really means. From the story, one can argue that the magic she refers to is not necessarily what Sir Edmund is capable of. Rather, it is the innate magic that a child's spirit harnesses through adventure and what adults often lose as their childhood slips away. It is this adventure, through the perspective of the children, that endears readers to the characters. While Leona's budding relationship with Sir Edmund holds promise early, the story truly evolves into one primarily about Sir Edmund and the children. Adults like Leona, her best friend Nadine, and Robert carry out their roles but mostly fade into the background as the kids experience the core of the adventure.

Leona's empathy for her town—combined with Leo's zest for life, Raccoon's technology expertise, Squirrel's ability to mindspeak, and Edmund's magic—clashes directly with the current mayor and his hateful thoughts. In the process of replacing the ex-mayor with Leona, the author dives into several complex concepts like torts, corporations, and privatization. Though these terms are undoubtedly not easy to comprehend, even posing a challenge to many adults, Shield embeds simplified explanations through the natural course of the dialogue between characters. For instance, upon seeing Magic City officially on the map via the internet, Shield uses Leona to ignite a discussion about the merits of citizenship and giving struggling and talented individuals an equal chance to prove themselves and reap the benefits of their town.

In many ways, magic in this piece goes far beyond casting spells, mindspeak, or time traveling. The use of technology and the internet is nothing short of magical. As Edmund uses Leo's mind to explore the fertile new twenty-first-century world, his character and integrity are also brought to light by his present-day actions in bringing his nephew into the world—in the fourteenth century. Though perhaps not in the traditional sense, magic is in full force in Shield's narrative, shedding light on many of the world's atrocities while also infusing audiences with hope, healing, love, and laughter.

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