Will Do Magic for Small Change by Andrea Hairston

“The most a person can do for another is believe in ’em ’til they come true.”

-Will Do Magic for Small Change

Rating: 🪐🪐🪐

I have never read a book like this before. West African mythology and history + a Black, queer MC + an interdimensional, genderqueer alien (who is also part demon)… this story has it all and more. While I can’t say that I would highly recommend it due to the disjointed and somewhat messy writing, I am glad that I read it, and I would encourage anyone who is interested in a very unique reading experience to give it a try, especially if you typically enjoy YA.

Honestly not sure I can summarize the plot without confusing anyone, so I will just copy/paste the Goodreads description:

“Cinnamon Jones dreams of stepping on stage and acting her heart out like her famous grandparents, Redwood and Wildfire. But at 5’10” and 180 pounds, she’s theatrically challenged. Her family life is a tangle of mystery and deadly secrets, and nobody is telling Cinnamon the whole truth. Before her older brother died he gave Cinnamon “The Chronicles of the Great Wanderer,” a tale of a Dahomean warrior woman and an alien from another dimension who perform in Paris and at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The Chronicles may be magic or alien science, but the story is definitely connected to Cinnamon’s family secrets. When an act of violence wounds her family, Cinnamon and her theater squad determine to solve the mysteries and bring her worlds together.”

This was the most unique reading experience I have ever had. I honestly can’t say that I liked this book, but I also can’t say that I disliked it. I did finish it, and I am glad I did. After finishing it, I rushed to find the book about Cinnamon’s time-traveling, magic grandparents (Redwood & Wildfire) that was written a few years before Will Do Magic.

I think Hairston is an incredible storyteller in desperate need of an equally incredible editor. Reading this book, I did not get the sense that it was edited much at all. It did read a bit on the YA side to me (though it deals with some heavy topics), so if you usually enjoy YA, you may enjoy this more than I did. Tordotcom is now publishing Andrea Hairston, and her first book with them, Master of Poisons, came out last year. Going forward, I hope that they will be able to provide her with better editing services that will do her storytelling justice.

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