PageTurners: Black Magic, in This World and Others

PageTurners: Black Magic, in This World and Others

Caul Baby, The Cost of Knowing, A River Called Time
Caul Baby, The Cost of Knowing, A River Called Time
Image: HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Penguin Random House
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Magic. What is it exactly? Some will debate wholeheartedly that the confines of magic exist in fantasy novels and movies and television shows—you know, fictionally. I’m not going to lie; I agree with this, but I think it’s deeper. I think magic can exist within a very real world and still have all the impact, if not more, than a fictional universe. Black folk are magic, through and through, and it’s shown in poetry, science fiction and reimagined timelines this week.

April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to kick off the first Tuesday in April than with some hot new poetry releases? For poets, their chosen medium is a literary device to express and explore emotions rooted deeply in one’s subconscious, attaching them to tangible issues that have affected them in the past, present and future. Adrienne Christian’s third poetry collection, Worn, dives into the connections between pain, joy, love, loss and family and how each is intricately woven together. Rosamond S. King’s second poetry collection All the Rage goes into the rage and violence that surround Black Americans and how they overcome the constant obstacles thrown their way.

Brittney Morris’ long-awaited young adult novel, The Cost of Knowing follows sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus as he races against time and uses an unwelcome set of gifts to fight for his younger brother’s life. And with respect to time, Courttia Newland’s A River Called Time follows another young man aboard “The Ark” set in a parallel timeline where slavery never existed.

Magic. It’s very real and present in this week’s new releases, following each character, person and theme to construct worlds for us to wander.

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Adrienne Christian – Worn (Poetry)

Adrienne Christian – Worn (Poetry)

Adrienne Christian – “Worn”
Adrienne Christian – “Worn”
Image: Santa Fe Writers Project

Worn explores the connection Black people have with their children, lovers and themselves. Adrienne Christian sees the tender connections between pain and joy and where they intersect. Her third collection of poetry guides the reader through tales of love and longing and the ways each manifests, asking how we are able to keep moving forward after reality—whether harsh or tender—hits. From stories of sexual discovery to familial disappointment, “Worn” navigates where we stand after grief knocks us down.

April 1, 2021, Santa Fe Writers Project

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Brittney Morris – The Cost of Knowing (Young Adult)

Brittney Morris – The Cost of Knowing (Young Adult)

Brittney Morris – “The Cost of Knowing”
Brittney Morris – “The Cost of Knowing”
Image: Simon and Schuster

Alex Rufus is trying his best. Doing everything he can to be the best employee, boyfriend and brother, but the sixteen-year-old continuously comes up short—not for lack of trying, however. Alex is cursed with the inability to stay present, because every time he touches a person or object, he can see into its future, from when he’ll next scoop ice cream at his job to his car—totaled and underwater years in the future—to breaking up with his girlfriend. But none of those are as frightening as the vision he receives upon touching a photo of himself and his brother, showing him his brothers’ imminent death.

With time slipping away and death racing towards them, Alex and his brother Isaiah are in a race against time and must face the reality of their past, present and future and what it means to be a young Black man in America.


April 6, 2021, Simon and Schuster

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Courttia Newland – A River Called Time (Science Fiction)

Courttia Newland – A River Called Time (Science Fiction)

Courttia Newland – “A River Called Time”
Courttia Newland – “A River Called Time”
Image: Penguin Random House

Set in an alternate London where slavery never existed and loyalty, politics and conscience are set on a parallel timeline, the Ark was built to save lives. But as things began to crumble, the Ark became a refuge for the elite, closing its entrance without warning. Years later, a select few have a chance to prove they’re worthy enough to board the Ark and earn a chance for survival. Markriss Denny, one of those chosen, has only one thing keeping him from success: the fact his soul leaves his body without warning, allowing him to see the world beyond its physical limitations.

Upon boarding the Ark, he discovers someone with the same power, and is pushed to the limits and forced into a race against time to understand and harness his own powers. Many close calls with catastrophe and disaster lead him to discover that the Ark and the people he once knew, have a much deeper truth.

April 6, 2021, Penguin Random House

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Helen Oyeyemi – Peaces (Fiction)

Helen Oyeyemi – Peaces (Fiction)

Helen Oyeyemi – “Peaces”
Helen Oyeyemi – “Peaces”
Image: Penguin Random House

Upon the declaration of their love, Otto and Xavier Shin are gifted a trip on The Lucky Day, an old tea-smuggling train converted into a sleeper train to mark their new commitment. They, along with their pet mongoose, quickly discover that this train has been crafted to suit their every need beyond even their most wild imagination—from the touching welcoming materials to the ingredients for their favorite breakfasts. But their enchantment with the seemingly perfect trip fades as they realize they are completely alone on the journey, save for one mysterious woman who offers a shocking and secretive message. As questions begin to pile up, their time on The Lucky Day uproots everything they thought they knew about themselves and each other.

April 6, 2021, Penguin Random House

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Morgan Jerkins – Caul Baby (Fiction)

Morgan Jerkins – Caul Baby (Fiction)

Morgan Jerkins – “Caul Baby”
Morgan Jerkins – “Caul Baby”
Image: HarperCollins

The Melancons, an old and powerful Harlem family, are known for their caul, a unique layer of skin only they possess and is the source of their healing power. When Laila, a woman desperate to become a mother, goes to the Melancons for help she is left heartbroken after their deal falls through. Unbeknownst to her, her search for a piece of caul could end with her niece and the birth of her daughter, Hallow, but she is taken to the Melancons to be raised as their own. Hallow is special. Hallow is born with a caul.

Greed and secrecy take over as Josephine, the matriarch of the Melancon family, becomes convinced Hallow is the key to restoring their family to greatness and keeps her locked inside their home. Years pass and Amara, Hallow’s birth mother, still angry with having to give up her daughter, searches for ways to get her back, forcing Hallow to decide where she really belongs.

New York Times bestselling author and poet Morgan Jerkins makes her fiction debut with Caul Baby, a novel about family, magic and the secrets that hold them both together.

April 6, 2021, HarperCollins

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Rosamond S. King – All the Rage (Poetry)

Rosamond S. King – All the Rage (Poetry)

Rosamond S. King – “All the Rage”
Rosamond S. King – “All the Rage”
Image: Nightboat Books

Rosamond S, King’s second poetry collection, All the Rage, addresses the everyday joy, pleasure and ever-present force of racism in America. In a time where the focus on and threat of police violence on Black men and women is so great, creativity and artistry continue to rise. This collection addresses the reality of living in America from a multitude of perspectives, exploring how people of color might live in an alternate yet familiar reality.

From Nightlight Boat Books: “All the Rage simultaneously invokes both anger at ongoing, systemic violence and the frivolity of something that is, perhaps temporarily, ‘trending.”’

April 6, 2021, Nightboat Books

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