Andrew Jacob’s novella, Lunasa Days, takes the plot of Rainmaker and gives it a twist: this particular magician is worried he just might be conning his clients.
Bailey, gripped by a quarter-life crisis and long ago opened –if skeptically – to the world of magic, abandons his comfortable corporate life to take his bicycle on the open road. He makes his living while out biking by casting spells. His first opportunity comes fast: on a little-traveled back road, a gas station owner struggles to keep his business going now that the highway miles off directs traffic away from his business. On a pit-stop the owner hires Bailey to cast a spell on his gas station and word gets to the town people that there’s a stranger with magic among them. While in easier times perhaps those same townspeople would drive him off, the crops are all dying thanks to a bad round of GMO seeds and the farmers are willing to try anything.
What Jacob writes is not some glib fantasy. Instead, it is as real as magic gets in fiction. His descriptions of communications with Apollo are just as most of those who work with the ancient gods experience them – not in big flashing visions, but in an implied sense of presence. In every act of magic is not ego, but doubt. The character of Bailey is sympathetic in his keen awareness he may not be helping at all but instead preying on people’s desperation and hope. Even so, he uses the skills he has to help and asks his own needs be met as well.
There are several themes in the book wound around this central character, who ends up being neither catalyst nor savior: the plight of the modern farmer, the debt trap that captures most Americans and the detached, partial disbelief of the modern magic practitioner all come together believably.
The book is also artfully written in a rare combination of readable but literary writing.
~ review by Diana Rajchel
Author: Andrew Jacob
Northwest Passage Books, 2013
131 pp, $7.99
Note: Andrew Jacob is a longtime personal friend of the reviewer. Hi is biking, kayaking and walking to South America over the next several years. Readers can follow his adventures – and occasionally cringe at them – on RoguePriest.net