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The Red Magician

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  604 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Winner of the 1983 American Book Award, The Red Magician was an immediate classic.

On the eve of World War II, a wandering magician comes to a small Hungarian village prophesying death and destruction. Eleven-year-old Kicsi believes Vörös, and attempts to aid him in protecting the village.

But the local rabbi, who possesses magical powers, insists that the village is safe, a
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 15th 1995 by Orb Books (first published 1982)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written book, deserving of its American Book Award. Lisa Goldstein has succeeded in the difficult genre, magic realism by blending many layers in her novel. First, the main storyline of fantasy and magic as captured in the battle between the traveler Voros (the Red Magician) and the incumbent village Rabbi, another powerful magician. Second, the historical backdrop of life in a small Jewish village in Hungary before, during and after the Holocaust. The moral and religious dispute b ...more
Althea Ann
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here, Goldstein brings the feel of the mythopoeic into a WWII story.

Kisci is a young Jewish girl who's never been outside her insular, rural community. She longs to experience the wider world, and when a red-haired traveler comes to town, he captures her imagination, even though his warnings of doom are nothing anyone wants to hear. The local rabbi insists that the traveler is an enemy, and works himself up to a raging vendetta against him, ignoring evil omens... and the source of the real thre
Stephanie Swint
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This tale is set in a small European town. It is so small it doesn’t concern itself with the affairs of the outside world and the outside world is not concerned with it. This Jewish settlement is led by its Rabbi, and while he is integral to the tale, the story is about and told through the eyes of a young girl named Kisci. I call it a tale because the story is interwoven with folklore and myth. Jewish mysticism is held in juxtaposition to the Nazi threat of World War II. It is similar to Cather ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads, arcs
I received an advance reading copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

YA fantasy that really works well. I can certainly see why it received awards as this short novel does what few of this type are able to do. Magical Realism is a tricky genre. Embraced by masters such as Borges and Garcia Marquez, it often comes off muddy and confusing in the hands of lesser writers. The fantasy elements predominate and the storyline bears little or no resemblance to the real world; or the realist
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein, first published in 1983 and winner of the National Book Award is a novel of suffering, survival, Jewish folklore and magic. All set during the terrible time of the Holocaust. Though written with the undertones of magic, it is still overall a story of the human condition and the evil that is done in the name of man.

Kicsi is a young girl in a small European village, who spends her time dreaming of faraway lands. But she is drawn into a conflict into her small vi
This is a fable, not a novel. The characters aren't people,but they are more than types. It is actually a fable about loss and blame. It's something you puzzle over more than enjoy, though.
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
“No one deserves their life. It is a gift, given to all.”

Reading the blurb a reader might think this book was another Jews and the Holocaust story, albeit with a fantastic twist. A casual reading of the opening chapters suggests it’s more about magic, Kabbalah and Jewish folklore, but in fact it strikes me as a meditation on the relationship of superstition and religion with those others playing out in the foreground.

“He who saves a life, it is as though he saved the entire world.”
May 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
I borrowed this book from Missy.
A short read, but wonderful story.

A favorite quote, " Done? You have done nothing yet. But no one deserves their life. It is a gift, given to all. It is not for you to decide whether or not you deserve it. . . He who saves a life, it is as though he saved the entire world."
Yzabel Ginsberg
(I got a copy courtesy of OpenRoad Media through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

An interesting short story, though I must admit it wasn't exactly what I expected, and I ended up not liking it as much as I hoped.

On the one hand, I could easily feel the magic permeating the atmosphere, the strange aura surrounding Vörös. Moreover, there's a golem in the middle, and I'm often very, very partial towards golems (everybody has their favourite mythological/magical creature; well, this is
Sep 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this American Book Award-winning novel reads like a paranormal Nancy Drew tale laced with Kabbalah (Jewish magic), and the second half is like no other Holocaust survival story you’ve ever read. Goldstein writes like Madeline L’Engle at her best; her novel is fast-paced, very dream-like at times, and free of cliches. This is a great read for anyone who likes fantastical young adult novels but is tired of the same old nerdy-orphan-with-a-universe-shattering-destiny-to-fulfill st ...more
Allen Garvin
A retelling of the classic Golem legend, set during the holocaust. The label "magic realism", which has become nearly meaningless most of the time, is well-applied here. Jewish folklore, Jewish magic and mysticism and wonder make this under-appreciated story one of the great fantasies of the last quarter century.
Mar 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I really, really wanted to love this book, but I couldn't. I loved the themes, the plot, the ideas, but I just couldn't feel the characters, and that left me feeling like I was watching the book from the outside, instead of living in it. I'm sad.
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, jewish, fantasy
It’s about the magic of the shtetl v. the Holocaust, a wandering magician pitted against the local wonder-working rabbi who ignores the supernatural signs foretelling the Holocaust and wants to blame the magician for the disasters that befall his people and his family. (The magician is red-headed and called Voros, meaning red in Hungarian, hence the title.)

The book is very good on the shtetl itself, evoking its gentle internal rhythms of life but also the narrowness of it. The young girl who is
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Love the premise and the book really comes alive in the last third. The rest feels a bit rushed.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
The Red Magician reads like a fairytale set against the backdrop of World War II and the holocaust. It is a story about faith, magic, living and surviving.
I thought the first half of the story was very strong, atmospheric and beautifully written. The magic system is imbued with Jewish faith and theology and that is something that really intrigued me, as I am big on religious themes and how they are incorporated into fantasy.
The feeling of impending doom, with the villagers none the wiser kept me
Rose Withering
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I could not put it down. i read it in one day. It was trippy, creepy and sad, but as it was about the Holocaust, that was expected. I don't want to give spoilers, so I won't say much about the story, but it's basically about a magician who comes to a town and tries to warn them about the Holocaust, and the horrors that they will all soon face, and no one believes him, except one young girl, I think she's 13 when she meets him and she's 18 when the soldiers come to the town. Th ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steve by: Mike Resnick
"But I would like to think that there was a - a reason for her death, and for the deaths of so many other people. It may be that there is no answer. It may be - it is likely - that I shall die before I find it. But I cannot accept that her death, so young, had no meaning. That is something I cannot understand."

I doubt that there is a book, a film, a work of art of any kind that can truly express the sadness and horror of the Holocaust.

Nevertheless, both of Lisa Goldstein's parents were Holocaus
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really didn't enjoy this book. I didn't like the way it was written. It felt as if it was supposed to be a bit fairytalesque but didn't quite manage it. The charectures were very 2 dimensional and the pacing in the book was very bad. I really wanted to enjoy this but actually dnfed it near the end as I just didn't have the heart to finish the last couple of chapters.
See Read-Alikes on The Book Adventures on November 3rd, 2014.

The Red Magician is a story about Kicsi, a young girl living in a remote village in Eastern Europe during the 1940s. Kicsi believes in magic: in the rabbi’s ability to perform miracles and to curse people, and in the wondrous tricks of an enigmatic traveler, Vörös. Kicsi yearns for adventure, but first she finds horror and trauma. There are three parts to this novel – Kicsi’s life in the village and the conflict between her traveler fr
The Red Magician is a Young Adult book about a traveler who visits a Jewish village where young Kiesi lives and warns her and her village that they need to leave because his dreams tell him that trouble is coming. How hard would it be to believe a stranger’s dreams? What if other signs began occurring? Kiesi wants to leave. She sees it as a great adventure and a way to leave her home. But the adults have worked hard for all that they own. The Rabbi tells the villagers not to listen to the red ma ...more
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it

Publisher: Open Road Media

Publishing Date: 1982, July 1995, October 2014

ISBN: 9781497673595

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publisher Description: In the schoolroom of a simple European village, Kicsi spends her days dreaming of the lands beyond the mountains: Paris and New York, Arabia and Shanghai. When the local rabbi curses Kicsi’s school for teaching lessons in Hebrew, the holy tongue, the possibility of adventure seems further away than ever. But when a
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Open Road Integrated Media and Netgalley for the free review copy.

This is a masterfully written book. Ms. Goldstein effortlessly blends four different layers into her novel.

There is the exterior layer of fantasy and magic (the ongoing dispute between Voros, the Red Magician, and the village rabbi, a powerful magician in his own right); the historical layer, which deals with life in a Jewish village in Hungary before, during and after the Holocaust (which irrevocably changes the villag
Wayne McCoy
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
'The Red Magician' by Lisa Goldstein is a pretty good story of magical realism. I thought the setting worked better than some stories I've read in the same setting.

Kicsi is a young Jewish girl living in a small village in Europe before the beginning of World War II. A strange magician named Voros comes to town and Kicsi is quite taken with him. He claims to be quite old, but he doesn't look like he is. He takes up residence outside the village and has dire warnings for the villagers. One man sta
3,5 stars

The book follows Kisci, a young Jewish girl, from a small Hungarian village in the 1930s. When a red-haired stranger called Vörös, who can see to the future, comes to the village and tells about horrors to come, the village rabbi refuses to listen and insists that nothing will happen. The two men clash and becomes the talk of the village. But Kisci believes Vörös and wants to help him protecting the village. But then the Nazis come and everything changes.

This is YA book about Holocaust
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, gift-present
This book made me cry. Although very short at 156 pages, The Red Magician packs a powerful punch. The first part of the book builds the relationship between Kicsi and the eponymous Red Magician during her adolescence in a timeless Hungarian village. It is only the references to European politics that makes you realise the book is set before, during and after WW2.

Read it - you will not fail to be moved.
 Reading Reindeer

A heartwrenching tale of the long reach of the Holocaust, told from the perspective of an adolescent girl in a small community not quite Polish or Czech or Hungarian, a town whose rabbi curses the school and instructors for teaching Hebrew, the Holy Tongue. Kicsi dreams of far-flung locales with exotic names and equally exotic cultures; and as the Nazi madness affects a continent, the magical transient Voros appears.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Somehow I missed this Holocaust story for children until now. I wasn't impressed with it despite the fact that it won an American Book Award in 1983. The elements of magic and mysticism just didn't seem well placed in a book on this subject for kids. It was jarring and confusing. A much better book on the subject is Twenty and Ten, by Claire Huchet Bishop.
David Slater
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
A strange and interesting book in a genre I didn't know existed: Holocaust fantasy. As odd and awkward as that sounds, it's well done, though a bit heavy handed at the end. Recommended for those (teens especially) interested in the subject who've read all the standard offerings. Had the chance to do a panel with the author recently!
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alannah Clarke
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, reviewed
I don't read much YA fantasy but this one really seemed to stick out for me when I saw the description on the website. When I finished the book, I was not disappointed. To be honest I don't know much about Jewish folklore but this did not put me off this storyline at all. The author did a great job creating such wonderful characters. Would strongly recommend this book.
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Aka Isabel Glass.

Lisa Goldstein (b. November 21, 1953 in Los Angeles) is a Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award nominated fantasy and science fiction writer. Her 1982 novel The Red Magician won the American Book Award for best paperback novel, and was praised by Philip K. Dick shortly before his death. Goldstein writes science fiction and fantasy; her two novels Daughter of Exile and The Divided

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“Nur zu bald wirst du diesen Ort, dein Heimatdorf, verlassen. Du wirst durch Schmerz und Feuer und Hunger gehen, und ich kann nicht sagen, wie das Ende aussehen wird. Vielleicht wirst du am Ende nach Palästina kommen oder nach Amerika. Und dort wirst du deinen Kindern Geschichten aus deiner Kindheit erzählen, und sie werden diese Stadt für ebenso exotisch, ebenso fern halten wie Shanghai. Und nur zu bald werdensie fort von dir und in ferne Länder gehen wollen.” 0 likes
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