Goodreads: A Snicker of Magic
Published: February 2014
Magic used to flow throughout the town of Midnight Gulch, where people could sing up rain, turn invisible, or play a tune that got everyone dancing. When twelve-year-old Felicity Pickle arrives, she hopes that enough magic remains to cure her mother of her wandering heart and allow her family to grow roots in the first place that has ever felt like home. Along with her first-ever friend Jonah Pickett, a do-gooder kid who helps her to believe in her own magic, Felicity will attempt to lift the curse that lies on Midnight Gulch and make her family whole.
A Snicker of Magic is one of those rare, wonderful books that seems to defy description, being possessed of a vitality and a heart that cannot be transmitted through a review but rather must be experienced firsthand. Exuberant, uplifting, fresh, and unexpected, it shines with a, dare I say, magic all its own. Real, lovable characters; a feel-good message; and an intriguing plot all combine to create the perfect story–the kind that transports you to a place you would love to call your own.
Everything about this story is pure gold, beginning, of course, with the characters. Felicity Pickle narrates the story, offering not only a unique voice but also insightful observations on other characters and a surprisingly mature assessment of her circumstances. She is joined by a wonderful family, showcasing a strong, loving mother and an adorable and devoted younger sister (as well as a pretty awesome aunt and uncle), illustrating that parental figures can be present without ruining all the fun. Jonah Pickett, however, proves the real show-stealer. Kind, loving, generous, and a self-described “do-gooder,” Jonah manages to be the most wonderful of friends, always supporting and encouraging Felicity without ever becoming obnoxious or sappy. He is nothing short of inspirational.
Though Jonah is the most obvious of kind characters, A Snicker of Magic actually features an entire town of kind people. After I had finished the book, I reflected on how remarkable it was to read a book where just about everyone does their best to act with charity (excepting, of course, some students–middle school can be rough) . That is not to say everyone is whole. Many characters suffer from feelings of guilt, inadequacy, fear, or heartache, and their brokenness sometimes causes pain to those around them, as well. However, no one intentionally uses their pain as a weapon to lash out at others. Many use it as a way to relate to those around them, and to try to offer healing. Such a town might be thought unbelievable, but I never doubted Midnight Gulch for a second. In fact, while I was there, I never questioned that a town should be any other way.
Natalie Lloyd does not only offer an uplifting story about people reaching to those around them, however, but goes farther and reaches out to her own readers. A Snicker of Magic seamlessly integrates a diversity of characters, showing us just how it’s done. Felicity, for instance, happens to have been raised by a single mother, but that mother is never defined solely by her absent husband. Jonah Pickett, meanwhile, happens to be in a wheelchair, but he is never reduced to a mere plot device, someone whom the others need to learn to accept. A range of other unique characters populate the rest of the town, from the homeless artist to the elderly woman who pursued a young woman’s dream. All of them come to live in glorious 3D, never consenting to conform to a type and always asking for the readers’ sympathy and interest.
Lloyd’s incredible characters, commitment to diversity, emphasis on kindness, and magical plotline all mark her as an author to watch. I can easily see her becoming my next must-have author–the one whose books you buy on sight, without even knowing what they’re about.