The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman, by Robin Gregory ( Mad Mystical Journey Press, December 14, 2015), 294 pp.
Moojie has so many strikes against him that survival of any kind seems improbable. He’s born with physical disabilities; is slow to talk and when he finally does, he stutters; he loses his mother and his father won’t have him; almost everyone taunts him; and he’s sent to live with a cantankerous grandfather at a place called St. Isidore’s Fainting Goat Dairy. If being named “Moojie” was the first curse, being sent to the dairy was just about the last straw.
His grandfather drinks, curses, works Moojie hard in spite of the young man’s weak legs and weak arms, constantly threatens to send him to an orphanage, and passionately has it out for the so-called “hostiles” who live in the surrounding forests.
While the hostiles first appear to have come from the land of faerie, Moojie discovers they’re a magical race tasked with demonstrating harmony in our world. He hopes their clan will accept him because, among other things, he has no true family to call his own. But will they trust him? He can scarcely trust himself. But he’s learning, and the realism of this process is well handled by the author.
Moojie, his grandfather, his meddlesome aunt, the clan members, and the townspeople are defined in spot-on detail. They have depth, though Moojie believes he’s shallow and inept at the beginning of this well-crafted and beautifully told tale. The book’s magical realism accentuates the abilities of the off-world clan family as well as the dormant gifts Moojie has been blessed (or possibly cursed) with.
Many will call this a coming-of-age novel. Yes it is. But that assessment is much too stale for such a fresh, rich story. The story is about making choices and the probable transformations that follow them. Other than a bit of sentimentality at the end, Robin Gregory’s novel is a wonder about wonders and highly recommended.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism and contemporary fantasy novels and short stories.