Magic Time

Written by Doug Marlette
Review by Rebecca Roberts

When a terrorist group bombs a Manhattan museum, newspaper columnist Carter Ransom suffers an emotional breakdown and returns to his hometown in Troy, Mississippi, to recuperate. While home, an ambitious young attorney reopens the ShilohChurch bombing case of 1965, forcing Carter to face his past. Then, the Ku Klux Klan had killed Carter’s girlfriend, Sarah Solomon, and three other civil rights activists in an attack at a local church. His father, the local judge, had presided over the case, which Sydney Rushton now claims was flawed. One man was convicted but the instigator, Samuel Bohanon, the Imperial Wizard of the KKK, went free.

As Carter prepares to testify, he must revisit the 1965 Freedom Summer and the events leading up to Sarah’s demise. He begins to understand that he never fully accepted Sarah’s death, which led to failed relationships and eventually his breakdown. Childhood friends, memories, and Sydney help Carter sort through his wounds and come to terms with his past.

Marlette, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, has written an emotional novel filled with all the violence of the Freedom Summer. While slow to start, the story picks up and speeds through Mississippi’s most traumatic times in a vivid, eloquent manner. Told in flashbacks, the story is personal, drawing readers into the past, and touching on the humanity of the people involved. Full of courtroom drama, history, humor, love, and ultimately, justice, Magic Time is a potent story about one man’s journey to acceptance, and Mississippi’s journey to freedom.