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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Magic All Around

Narrator: Kathleen McInerney

ISBN: 9781400240524

Publisher: HarperCollins Focus, Harper Muse

Publication Date: 01/16/2024

Format: Audio

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

In this latest enchanting novel from bestselling magical realism author Jennifer Moorman, a treasure hunt through the past reveals one woman’s extraordinary gift for arranging the future.

The Russell women have always lived in a house that is as special as they are—a century-old Victorian with a radio that tunes itself to the listener’s mood and a pantry that rearranges to provide just the right ingredients for any baking need. Lilith Russell was the exception. She left the family home in Ivy Ridge, Georgia, and has been flitting like a hummingbird from place to place with her daughter, Mattie, in the decades since, only returning each summer to drop Mattie off with Lilith’s sister, Penelope.

When Lilith dies suddenly, Mattie is left without her sole companion and the captain who steered her ship. That is, until she visits Ivy Ridge and learns Lilith charted one last course for Mattie: a series of tasks that she must complete to earn her inheritance, with Penelope overseeing the process.

Both Mattie and Penelope are outraged by Lilith’s seemingly random stipulations: throw a Halloween party, take a local pizza cooking class, share secrets with someone . . . But Mattie soon realizes that if she completes the tasks, she may unearth her mother’s secrets, including the identity of Mattie’s father. She may also discover more about the Russell family “gifts” and why Lilith chose Penelope’s former love to be the executor of the will. She may even learn how and why Jonathan Carlisle, the boy who stole her heart ten summers ago, also happens to be back in town.

Mattie can only hope that Lilith’s final map will finally point her home.

My Review

Jennifer Moorman's latest novel, THE MAGIC ALL AROUND, is enchanting— a magical journey about the memories of places and people we carry throughout our lives —sometimes physical mementos and others intangible.

Meet the Russell family. Eldest Penelope, younger sister (A seamstress), her younger sister, Lilith (free-spirited), and lives with her daughter, Mattie (independent and artistic).

Lilith left the family home in Ivy Ridge, Georgia, and has been flitting like a hummingbird from place to place with her daughter, Mattie, in the decades since, only returning each summer to drop Mattie off with Lilith’s sister, Penelope.

The old Victorian Russell home is at the center and has its own personality. The house often understands the family's needs before they do. It keeps their secrets, shares in their joys, embraces them when they grieve, and gives them the push they need.

When Mattie finds herself back in the family home after her mother's unexpected death, she has no desire to stick around in this small town. She is accustomed to living in a new city every few years with Lilith as her sole companion.

She hesitates to get involved in the Russell family secrets and their special gifts.

But while reading the will, the family is shocked to learn Lilith included a testamentary trust that requires Mattie to stay in Ivy Ridge long enough to complete a series of seemingly absurd tasks to claim her inheritance.

Mattie soon discovers her mother had a plan that would lead her to discover her birth father as well as teach her things about love and life. That staying in one place can produce something magical.

Beautifully written; what a stunning cover with the hummingbird, a reminder to keep our hearts open to receive the magic around us daily.

THE MAGIC ALL AROUND has a strong theme of mothers and daughters and their relationships—some we are born with and others we receive as a bonus.

From friendship and love, art, nature, self-discovery, and being true to yourself. Enchanting and thought-provoking for Southern fiction fans and authors Sarah Addison Allen, Laren Denton, Sarah Jio, and Meg Shaffer.

Thanks to Harper Muse and NetGalley for a gifted early reading copy for an honest opinion. I look forward to listening to the audiobook narrated by the fabulous Kathleen McInerney.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Jan 16, 2024

My Rating: 4 Stars


"The Magic All Around is brimming with lyrical southern beauty, a page-turning treasure hunt, and delightful magic. With a house built of enchanted wood, a mother-daughter bond that changes a life, a family saga that brings you home, and a captivating love story, The Magic All Around is a work of storytelling-art. For readers of Sara Addison Allen and Lauren Denton, this is your next captivating read. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, Jennifer Moorman is here to remind us that there really is magic all around."

—Patti Callahan Henry, NYT Bestselling author of The Secret Book of Flora Lea

About the Author

Born and raised in southern Georgia, where honeysuckle grows wild and the whippoorwills sing, magical realism author Jennifer Moorman is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Mystic Water Series, which includes the reader favorite, The Baker's Man. Jennifer also has a collection of folklore, myth, and magic—Retellings of Folklore, Myth, and Magic—that offers imaginative retellings of stories told by our ancestors about their mysterious, fantastical beliefs in both the physical and the spiritual world.

She considers herself a traveler, an amateur baker, and a dreamer. She can always be won over with chocolate, unicorns, or rainbows. She believes in love—everlasting and forever.

A Harry Potter fanatic and the owner of an arsenal of sweet ’80s dance moves, Jennifer once read a 700-page book while sitting in a traffic jam. When in doubt, play James Taylor. And she’s still holding onto the dream that one day she’ll be like Indiana Jones.

Follow her on Instagram @jenniferrmoorman, Facebook @jennifermoormanbooks, and on Pinterest @jenniferreneem.

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