Andrea Hairston’s Will Do Magic For Small Change a stack of ideas including a mixture of metatextual novel and historical fantasy. There are also elements of family drama, amd even coming of age present. It is also a sequel to the author’s previous histirical fantasy novel Redwood & Wildfire.
Rather than serving as a traditional sequel, this volume takes place in the late 1980s for the bulk of the plot and includes some of the leads of the last book as elderly figures. With the decendant Cinnamon as the lead, it is in some respects a textbook legacy sequel like Ghostbusters Afterlife and Lord of the Rings. Old characters appear, even playing important roles, yet the focus is undoubtedly upon the new characters and their journey.
Large portions of the novel are taken in the from of exerpts of a fictional novel titled The Chronicles of the Great Wanderer. This is treated as a historical fantasy novel in it’s own right, whose connections to the plot and life of Cinnamon become increasingly obvious as time goes by. The characters in it, most obviously the first person narrator, are drawn in fair detail. Said narrator is a woman suffering trial after trial and temptation upon temptation when dealing with her desperate attempts to stay true to her many promises and keep alive.
Cinnamon is a well constructed figure. An outsider, a large girl of color hoping to be a stage actor, she begins the story a bit of an underdog. Like many in any time, she is born out if years of family tragedies and relationships with other damaged people, one of whom is her mother Opal. Opal is angry and dismissive in Cinnamon’s youth, including an attempt to destroy the Chronicles. This is made more understandable by the fact that her husband Raven had apparently been in a coma for some time. Some sections do nicely touch on the relationship the pair had before death which is, overall, quite touching.
Major characters also include Klaus (a boy from germany spouts his native language gratuitously and succeeds at his audition) and Marie (a close friend and fellow acting hopeful of Cinnamon). Each has damage in their personal and family histories, helping them to bond. The pair are close to her, to the point of being more than friends.
LGBTQ novels are a treat, and the experience of discovery as Cinnamon realizes her attraction to both friends delightful. There is an element of polyamory in the story which will bea surprise to many. While there are going to be a lot of mixed reactions to this, the matter is treated respectfully within the pages.
Will Do Magic For Small Change is a delightful read. Including so many elements in one narrative, different styles and genres, can be tricky to say the least. The book manages them well. An occasional character is perhaps more comedic than intentioned or a bit of a cipher, yet given that this is the way the occasional person seems in day to day lfe thaf is probably only appropriate. Easily recommended to fans of Hairston’s previous work, and to interested parties overall.