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4.6 out of 5 stars
Magic Hour: A Novel
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87 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2006
So many people have already reviewed this book and told you what this story is about, so I don't think I need to give you the same details again. Let me tell you how this story made me feel. I was moved to tears and I was warmed inside by the depth of this gentle story. I didn't want this book to end.
I quickly fell in love with the child Alice who had been silenced by so many horrors and the town people who came to her aide. The way Ms Hannah lets us see what Alice is thinking since she is unable to speak the words to express herself made the book all the more interesting. All of the relationships in this book are so heart warming.
I have read most of Kristin Hannah's books and I think this just might be my favorite. She has become one of my very favorite authors. I can only give this book the highest marks!
JMHO //(*_*)\\
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
I am a long time fan of Kristin Hannah's. I've read everything she's written and unlike some multi-published authors, Hannah just gets better and better with each book she writes. And MAGIC HOUR is no exception. The title says it all---this book is pure MAGIC!! I don't like to read reviews that give away the plot and so I'm not going to comment on that except to say that this story blew me away. It was everything I'd come to expect (and love) from a Hannah novel--true emotion, deep characters--but it was also a story line so unique and fresh, I could not put the book down. If you've never read Kristin Hannah give yourself a huge treat with Magic Hour. And, if you're a Hannah fan like me, I'm sure you've already pre-ordered the book!! Another winner from an extremely talented writer.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2006
I have become a big fan of Kristin Hannah, and this book did not disappoint. The story is engaging, and once I started the book, I literally could not put it down. I had to know the identity of the little girl and yet dreaded the end of the book because I became so involved with the characters. The end of the book is satisfying on many levels, however.

Hannah has developed her writing skills over the years. Her characters are alive and her descriptions of the scenery are vivid. The interation between her characters is also realistic. I can't say enough positive things about this book. Kudos to Kristin Hannah for her work. I would encourage people to read this one.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
I liked this book at first but my opinion of it rapidly declined as the improbabilities started piling up. The characters--even the purportedly intellectual Julia--don't really seem real. They behave irrationally at times and they seem to miss a lot of things that are obvious to the reader. The Alice character in particular seems like pure fabrication (she is, of course, but it was really hard for me to even pretend like she was real).

It's mostly little things that bothered me, but there were enough of them to really detract from the overall appeal of this story. Some examples: It takes forever for it to dawn on anyone what was made painfully obvious in the early pages--that Alice is not just a little girl who "wandered off during a camping trip." At one point the characters lament that they might have to turn the girl over to parents who have hurt her, which is ridiculous because I'm sure no court in the world would blindly turn over a child who'd been so obviously abused without some kind of evidence that the parents weren't the abusers. And then there's all that nonsense about Alice's ability to communicate with animals--give me a break. There are also inconsistencies--we are told that the girl only understands a few words, but then we are told that she'd been warned in quite explicit terms about how there are bad people out in the world who might want to harm her, something she supposedly understood quite well. And maybe I don't know how to treat starvation, but I'm pretty sure if you give a starving person waffles with sugary strawberry syrup and whipped cream, or greasy hamburgers and French fries you might actually kill her. Also, babies aren't born in the O.R. (which stands for "operating room") except by c-section, and any town big enough to have a hospital probably has an obstetrician (the author has Jack-of-all-trades doctor Max delivering babies and working in the E.R., too). Finally, at one point the author mentions that six-year-old Alice has been wearing the same diaper for a couple of days because no one can get close enough to change it but doesn't explain why a six year old girl wouldn't just take it off herself after it was so saturated as to be uncomfortable, oh, and apparently the girl doesn't poop despite all those burgers and whipped cream covered waffles.

The writing is sloppy in places too. I was especially annoyed by the author's lazy way of showing the passage of time: "An hour later," "30 minutes later," "for the next two hours ..." YAWN! That's really bad writing and I don't know if it's because this author has written so many books that she's stopped worrying about the quality of her work because she knows her name will sell them--or if she's just that bad at writing a transition. And at one point I asked myself whether or not I could continue reading about the "snot" flying out of the girl's nose, which happened at least three times. Yuck.

Finally, I really questioned the author's understanding of psychology, which it seems to me she would have needed to really effectively conquer this subject. It doesn't seem plausible to me, for example, that a psychiatrist would attempt to treat an obviously traumatized child who screams in abject terror at the sight of a dreamcatcher by bringing her a bunch of dreamcatchers to further traumatize her. I don't know, maybe that's how psychiatrists do things, but it didn't seem real to me.

The book did improve towards the end, when at last the story started to gain speed and actually became somewhat compelling. It was enough to make me up my rating from two stars to three, but it was very slow in getting there. Sadly, the ending was right back to improbable though it was easier to swallow because the characters had finally started to seem three dimensional.

In looking at the many other reviews, I realize I'm in a very small minority in my criticisms of this book, so maybe I'm just being overly picky or maybe I'm just flat wrong about some of my assumptions. But this story just didn't sit right with me, and I'm afraid I can't recommend it over the many other excellent novels out there.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2006
I am a big Kristin Hannah fan. I like her usual love story but this was different for her. This book was the best I have read by her! It was amazing. I was moved to tears, many of them. I LOVED this book. I could not put it down. I muted my favorite TV shows to read (which is unlike me). Glad I bought this book so I can lend it to others!!

If this was the first book you read by her... read more. They are great.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2006
I'm always a little hesitant about an author that is new to me. With Kristin Hannah, and The Magic Hour, I'm glad I chose this one! This is a wonderful book. Julia, a psychiatrist, has lost a teen with major problems, and is blamed for the death of the girl, and others. Drained and wounded by the press and her own guilt, she goes back to her home town. There, her sister Ellie is a cop, in a small town with not too much going on. Ellie find a wild little girl, with a wolf pup, in a tree, and the story begins. The child is unable, or unwiling to speak, and has been through unspeakable horrors. She has escaped from the forest on the edge of town. Julia feels that she can help the broken little girl, and a bond is made. This book has it all. Joy and sorrow. Love and loss. Laughter and tears. The best part is the way the family circle and town friends come together for the sake of one little girl. Sometimes, I don't like the way some books end. With this one, I wasn't sure of how it would end. I can say that I was in tears as I read the last few pages. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the way a story comes together, and my highest praises to Ms. Hannah for a wonderful read. I'm looking forward to her other books, I may have found a new favorite author.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The media and the parents of the victims and even the survivors hold child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates culpable after a teenage patient of three years Amber Zuniga went on a rampage killing four peers. However, no one holds Julia to task more than she does herself as she keeps looking over what she did, trying to figure out what she could have done different to prevent the tragedy.

In between the Pacific and the Olympic National Forest, Rain Valley is a tiny insulated town, but has a problem. Chief of Police Ellie Barton pleads with her sister Julia to come to the northwest to help a mute little girl who came out of the nearby woods; local assumption is the child was raised by wolves. Julia heads north to work with the child she names Alice. Local Dr. Max Cerrasin assists her as she tries to reach Alice and learn who her parents are while also rejecting the persistent courting advances of her new medical partner.

MAGIC HOUR is a deep character driven tale that grips the audience once the depressed Julia leaves Los Angeles for the Pacific Northwest and never slows down until the final encounter. The exciting story line is driven by the emotional needs of Julia as much as by Alice. Who the child is and who her parents are lead to a fine mystery (similar to a real story from the early twentieth century) to a superb drama.

Harriet Klausner
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Courtesy of CK2S Kwips and Kritiques

A CK2SK2 Recommended Read

Magic Hour is a fascinating story about a feral child discovered in a small town and the psychiatrist who saves her.

Dr. Julia Cates was the top child psychiatrist in LA until one of her patients went on a high school shooting spree. Now trying to escape her ruined reputation and her guilt (Why didn't she see what was going to happen and find a way to prevent it?), she returns to Rain Valley in the Pacific Northwest at the request of her sister Ellie. Ellie Barton, beauty queen turned chief of police, is faced with her most difficult case yet. A mysterious child who cannot or will not speak has turned up in the center of town, high in a tree and clutching a wolf cub to her chest. She is a very rare case, a feral child, raised in the wild by wolves and no one knows what to do or how to find her family.

Julia may be the only person who can reach the poor girl so she answers her sister's plea for aid. Alongside of Max Cerrasin, town physician, Julia struggles to reach the young girl, whom she has named Alice, in honor of what becomes the child's favorite book. As the bond grows strong between Julia and Alice, Julia begins to find faith in herself again and finds she is willing to risk everything if it means "saving" Alice. At the same time, feelings begin to develop between Max and Julia but he has his own personal demons to face before he can give her his heart.

Magic Hour touched my heart in a way few stories do. I was so emotionally involved in little Alice's story that it was hard to get her out of my mind even after I finished the book. The terrors and struggles she went through leading up to Ellie finding her wound her deeply, and in turn wound the reader as we experience them through "Girl's" (for this is all she knows herself as) eyes. We are even thrust deeply into Girl's bond with "Wolf," her only companion and experience her agony over being separated from him during her long and trying emotional recovery. I was heartbroken many times over, almost having to pull off to the side of the road (I listened to the novel in my car while driving) in several instances when I found tears pouring down my cheeks over Girl's internal struggles and memories. I was also overjoyed in the moments when she finally accepts her new name and new life as that step is a huge leap in her recovery.

While there is romance in the story found in Julia and Max's growing relationship, and another love story that is hinted at but not developed until the end of the book, Alice really is the pivotal character in Magic Hour. This book is all about her and the relationship she forges with Julia through months of therapy as she tries to find her way out of the dark pit of her fear. Her return to the civilized world is long and taken in small measured steps, sometimes backwards, but that makes the journey all the more rewarding in the end. Alice is also crucial to Julia's own emotional recovery as she deals with the fallout and her personal guilt resulting from the LA tragedy.

Every single character is strongly developed and each one has his or her own private struggles and fears to overcome. Max struggles with events in his past that led him to hide out in Rain Valley. Ellie's lack of confidence impedes her personal journey as she discovers who she really is and what is most important in her life. And these are just a few of the beloved townsfolk who bond together in their times of greatest need.

Suzanne Toren is brilliant in her performance of Magic Hour. Though this story is very powerful already, Toren's skill at bringing your emotions to the forefront adds so much more intensity to the story. You can truly feel every single thing the characters are experiencing just through the voices brought to them.

Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah is so emotionally intense and heart-rending that it is sure to touch everyone who reads it.

© Kelley A. Hartsell, January 2007. All rights reserved.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
When I saw that this book had 4 stars on Amazon, I was anxious to get it and start reading! I must admit, that for me, this book certainly didn't start out as a 4-star book. The writing was a bit simple and trite. I didn't know much about the plot before I picked this up and hadn't read any of the other reviews--I usually don't, so I am not predisposed prior to reading a book. As I read through it, it built momentum. Initially, I remember wondering how this book could've received 4 stars with this simple and cliched writing style. But by the end, I was hooked and couldn't give it any less than 4 stars.

Here is what didn't really work for me:
- The adult relationships--particularly the romantic ones, seemed flimsy and underdeveloped. This was especially true with both sisters. The relationships were there, but it was less than believable for me--one example is Ellie and George, that actually irritated me.
- The ending was wrapped up at lightning speed and didn't match the pace of the rest of the book. It was also extremely tidy (though I appreciated it).
- I'm not sure how accurate this is and I just resigned myself to suspend some reality and just be entertained by the story so I could enjoy it. But I do think the author did a good job.
- I could've used some more details regarding the actual crime(s)

Here's what made it a 4-star read for me:
- I really cared about the characters--especially Julia and the little girl
- The last quarter of the book invoked *real* emotion
- The voice of the little girl was well done and easily transitioned to and from
- The storyline and plot was very intriguing and interesting

I was skeptical when I started this book--through the first 1/4 of it. But the momentum built and I am so glad I read this book. Kristin Hannah has my attention now. This was the first of her books that I've read, but it won't be the last.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2008
I have only read one other book by Kristin Hannah and that was a long time ago. Title was Once in Every Life and I thought it was the best time travel novel I've ever read and haven't read one better since. For some reason, I never bought another book by this author and I kick myself for not! I came across Magic Hour in a used book store and read the story line and immediately added it to my pile. Once I started reading, I never put it down. I loved this book and fell in love with Alice and many times I needed my tissue box next to me. There are so many sub-plots going on but the author has them all blended in and the book works perfectly but for me the star was definitely Alice. I have to say that this was one of the best books I've ver read and will be a keeper for me that I will read over and over. I'm not on a quest to get every book written by her because I love her style of writing. Even though this book has been out for some time, I encourage everyone who wants to read something different and heartwarming and doesn't mind shedding a tear along the way, to read this book. It's fantastic!
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