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During the Cold War a 15-year-old American boy, Brad Lattimer, moves with his family to a fishing village in Northern Italy. It's no ordinary village, but Brad is welcomed like a long-lost cousin. His teacher is a gentle hunchback with a lisp who is more than he seems. There are witches in the olive groves who will poison your cat, but not for the reasons you imagine. In t During the Cold War a 15-year-old American boy, Brad Lattimer, moves with his family to a fishing village in Northern Italy. It's no ordinary village, but Brad is welcomed like a long-lost cousin. His teacher is a gentle hunchback with a lisp who is more than he seems. There are witches in the olive groves who will poison your cat, but not for the reasons you imagine. In those groves there is a village so small it shouldn't be a village, its red doorways too short for normal men and women to pass through easily. At night, on its single narrow cobble street, creatures that should not exist walk while a single baby cries forever. On the sands of the next cove sits a pale, pretty girl who somehow knows the poetry of the great Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and wants you to drown with her, just as Percy drowned near this village over a century ago. This is the village where Mary Shelley may have dreamed her dream that became Frankenstein. It is certainly the village where Brad, too, will start to dream strange dreams and write his own first stories; where he will fall sick because the village's magic has its hold on him, wanting him to become something other than a boy--something that can never leave it--something it can have as its own for eternity. What people are saying about this book: "The Village Sang to the Sea is a uniquely haunting book. It's quite simply a beauty.” --Peter S. Beagle, World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement winner and author of The Last Unicorn "The Village Sang to the Sea is that rarity: a book that delicately and perfectly captures the magic we all know underlies the world. You will not forget this book. Not ever."
 --Nancy Kress, Hugo and Nebula awards winner "A magnificent reading experience, shimmering and vital, at once otherworldly and naturalistic, that recalls such fine ancestors as Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine and Jeffrey Ford's The Shadow Year. --Paul Di Filippo, Locus Online "The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic is just what its sub-title promises: magic. --James P. Blaylock, World Fantasy Award winner "Bruce McAllister's gorgeous new novel is magical realism at its very best. I loved it.” --Terri Windling, co-editor of the The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series "In our early years we all believe and trust in endless possibilities. Most of us soon leave this realm, though some of us return from time to time. If we call it merely 'imagination,' we don't reach the truly magical. The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic got me there. It's delightful." --Ron Arias, National Book Award nominee


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During the Cold War a 15-year-old American boy, Brad Lattimer, moves with his family to a fishing village in Northern Italy. It's no ordinary village, but Brad is welcomed like a long-lost cousin. His teacher is a gentle hunchback with a lisp who is more than he seems. There are witches in the olive groves who will poison your cat, but not for the reasons you imagine. In t During the Cold War a 15-year-old American boy, Brad Lattimer, moves with his family to a fishing village in Northern Italy. It's no ordinary village, but Brad is welcomed like a long-lost cousin. His teacher is a gentle hunchback with a lisp who is more than he seems. There are witches in the olive groves who will poison your cat, but not for the reasons you imagine. In those groves there is a village so small it shouldn't be a village, its red doorways too short for normal men and women to pass through easily. At night, on its single narrow cobble street, creatures that should not exist walk while a single baby cries forever. On the sands of the next cove sits a pale, pretty girl who somehow knows the poetry of the great Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and wants you to drown with her, just as Percy drowned near this village over a century ago. This is the village where Mary Shelley may have dreamed her dream that became Frankenstein. It is certainly the village where Brad, too, will start to dream strange dreams and write his own first stories; where he will fall sick because the village's magic has its hold on him, wanting him to become something other than a boy--something that can never leave it--something it can have as its own for eternity. What people are saying about this book: "The Village Sang to the Sea is a uniquely haunting book. It's quite simply a beauty.” --Peter S. Beagle, World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement winner and author of The Last Unicorn "The Village Sang to the Sea is that rarity: a book that delicately and perfectly captures the magic we all know underlies the world. You will not forget this book. Not ever."
 --Nancy Kress, Hugo and Nebula awards winner "A magnificent reading experience, shimmering and vital, at once otherworldly and naturalistic, that recalls such fine ancestors as Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine and Jeffrey Ford's The Shadow Year. --Paul Di Filippo, Locus Online "The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic is just what its sub-title promises: magic. --James P. Blaylock, World Fantasy Award winner "Bruce McAllister's gorgeous new novel is magical realism at its very best. I loved it.” --Terri Windling, co-editor of the The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series "In our early years we all believe and trust in endless possibilities. Most of us soon leave this realm, though some of us return from time to time. If we call it merely 'imagination,' we don't reach the truly magical. The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic got me there. It's delightful." --Ron Arias, National Book Award nominee

59 review for The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amber J

    I was given a free e-copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. This does not in any way affect my opinion. I try to express only my most honest opinion in a spoiler-free way. If you feel anything in my review is a spoiler and is not already hidden in spoiler brackets please let me know. Thank you. This one was hard to read. It skipped around a lot and that made it even harder to follow. I found my mind wandering often and usually had to force myself to pick it up. I did find thing I was given a free e-copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. This does not in any way affect my opinion. I try to express only my most honest opinion in a spoiler-free way. If you feel anything in my review is a spoiler and is not already hidden in spoiler brackets please let me know. Thank you. This one was hard to read. It skipped around a lot and that made it even harder to follow. I found my mind wandering often and usually had to force myself to pick it up. I did find things interesting every once in a great while, and the imagery was beautiful. The village sounds amazing and makes me want to go there, despite all the creepy things from the story. All in all, this but book wasn't the worst but I didn't feel it was anything super special either.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James

    "Some places have more magic than they should." Such is the guiding notion that flows through this enchanting novel by Bruce McAllister. Set in the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War, the narrative follows a young American boy named Brad Latimer whose Naval officer father has brought Brad and his mother to live in the small seaside village of Lerici, Italy. An impressionable 12-year old at the story’s beginning, Brad soon discovers his sensitivity to the magic that permeates the town, whi "Some places have more magic than they should." Such is the guiding notion that flows through this enchanting novel by Bruce McAllister. Set in the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War, the narrative follows a young American boy named Brad Latimer whose Naval officer father has brought Brad and his mother to live in the small seaside village of Lerici, Italy. An impressionable 12-year old at the story’s beginning, Brad soon discovers his sensitivity to the magic that permeates the town, which is locally known as the place where the poet Percy drowned (and rumored to be where Mary Shelley dreamed the dream that became Frankenstein). The magic appears in a variety of forms, some enchanting and others quite eerie and unsettling. Brad has odd encounters with a woman who may be a witch, lizards that don’t behave as lizards should, a strange town whose residents paint their doors with animal blood (the reason for this turns out to be quite disturbing), and assorted other strange happenings. Among other things, the town’s magic stimulates Brad to become a writer. In some respects this brings to mind other coming-of-age novels of boys discovering magic in their lives like Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine or Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life, but those novels were about hometown magic. Brad is an outsider discovering the magic in a foreign land, and the book has a sensibility quite different from the novels mentioned above. The impression of magic is beautifully conveyed by McAllister’s elegant and lyrical writing. Toward the end of the book there are signs that the magic wants something from Brad, and the novel takes an unexpected turn; the conclusion is strange, emotionally powerful, and totally satisfying. It’s one of those books that I didn’t want to end; I’ve never read anything quite like it. Highly recommended!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    GOODREADS WINNER We find ourselves placed gently in Lerici, Italy in the not-too-distant past of the 1960's following young American Bradley through ancient echos of Italian magic seeping into his life and his writing. In a series of short stories Brad tells the reader of how the touch of magic affected his views of Lerici, it's people, history, geography, and ultimately how that same magic tried to change Brad himself. I found this to be a lovely short read about a young man's journey by facing h GOODREADS WINNER We find ourselves placed gently in Lerici, Italy in the not-too-distant past of the 1960's following young American Bradley through ancient echos of Italian magic seeping into his life and his writing. In a series of short stories Brad tells the reader of how the touch of magic affected his views of Lerici, it's people, history, geography, and ultimately how that same magic tried to change Brad himself. I found this to be a lovely short read about a young man's journey by facing his fears, learning hard lessons, and ultimately growing into the adult that he needed to become. The writing style has a soft elegance tinged with a bit of melancholy that I absolutely adored. It flowed almost lyrically off the page and I found myself imaging the scenes as they played out before my eyes both on the page and in my mind's eye. The ending was quite satisfying and made me smile. I would definitely recommend this book. As an aside, the author was kind enough to include a seashell from Brad's collection called the "cameo shell" (cassis rufa) that held a bit of magic in it for me to appreciate and enjoy. I could hold the shell up to my ear and hear the susurrus of sea waves lapping at the Italian shoreline. Magical. Thank you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alethea

    Bruce McAllister's exquisite The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic depicts the special world of Lerici, Italy where young Brad Lattimer comes to live with his Naval family during the early 1960s. Brad narrates a series of short stories in which themes, imagery, and characters interweave. Brad's innate goodness and sensitivity pulls him into the magic of this seaside village where a Strega, an old woman who has witchlike powers, loves and sleeps with lizards who take the form of her belo Bruce McAllister's exquisite The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic depicts the special world of Lerici, Italy where young Brad Lattimer comes to live with his Naval family during the early 1960s. Brad narrates a series of short stories in which themes, imagery, and characters interweave. Brad's innate goodness and sensitivity pulls him into the magic of this seaside village where a Strega, an old woman who has witchlike powers, loves and sleeps with lizards who take the form of her beloved deceased husband and where the poet Shelley has fathered a daughter after he has drowned in the sea. Her descendent, a wild girl whom Brad loves, makes shells dance as she recites poetry, longing to drown like her famous forefather. The world of Lerici becomes like a dream; a dream which include nightmares. The story "The Bleeding Child," currently nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, is harrowing and disturbing but one impossible to put down. The Village Sang to the Sea is magical realism at its best and one longs to join Brad and step into the world where the impossible becomes real, ghosts may or may not exist, and a boy is changed forever.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Garrett Calcaterra

    A fun, fascinating read that makes you remember the magic in the world. It's a short book, and episodic, perfect for a rainy day. A fun, fascinating read that makes you remember the magic in the world. It's a short book, and episodic, perfect for a rainy day.

  6. 5 out of 5

    George Eraclides

    Evocative, haunting memoir of youth caught by magic and beholding the truth at the heart of all existence. Set in Italy (1960), it is beautifully written and stays with you after you have finished reading it. Another one of those I wish I had written.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Dudley

    I am blown away right now, one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    A beautifully written book made more so that Lerici was where we spent our honeymoon so I could do easily visualise the place.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Wrage

    FYI: I won this book on goodreads.com. Quirky, dark, little book. Strange twists and turns which kept me turning the pages. Thoughtful and thought provoking. Worth the time to read!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Атанас Раденски

    Mr. McAllister is a magical storyteller. This book awoke the child in me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Wow. Just... WOW! I received this book through Goodreads First Reads, and I must say that it's nothing like I've ever read before. It wasn't what I expected, but then again, I didn't really know what to expect. McAllister has given the world more than a beautiful piece of literature; this is a work of art. I don't even know where to begin or how to accurately put into words everything that makes this so remarkable. I'm not usually one for a collection of short stories because they remind me too m Wow. Just... WOW! I received this book through Goodreads First Reads, and I must say that it's nothing like I've ever read before. It wasn't what I expected, but then again, I didn't really know what to expect. McAllister has given the world more than a beautiful piece of literature; this is a work of art. I don't even know where to begin or how to accurately put into words everything that makes this so remarkable. I'm not usually one for a collection of short stories because they remind me too much of the textbooks from English class with half-hearted narratives that we had to analyze to death, but this is different. They're stories, but they somehow all flow together, and not just because of common characters. There's beauty and mystery and depth to them that I just can't explain. It's almost like there is some sort of magic that washes over the reader and keeps them as a willing prisoner throughout. Imagine that the magic Brad witnesses in the stories has somehow seeped into the pages and then again leeches into your fingers and the rest of your body as you read. Oh goodness, now I'm rambling... Anyway although short, this is a book that demands your time. By that I mean, don't read it in one day. It'd be very easy to, and I regret not taking more time with it, but it deserves to be read slowly and appreciated... multiple times, even.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    I was provided a free copy of this book Goodreads First Reads in exchange for a review. A beautiful, elegiac collection of interrelated stories with a very surprising ending. Brad Lattimer is 13 years old when his Navy officer father is sent to Italy. It is the early 1960s and the height of the Cold War. Brad's father is assigned to top secret work. His mother, a teacher, is grieving over the death of her younger child, a baby, so Brad is left to his own devices quite a bit. He makes quickly mak I was provided a free copy of this book Goodreads First Reads in exchange for a review. A beautiful, elegiac collection of interrelated stories with a very surprising ending. Brad Lattimer is 13 years old when his Navy officer father is sent to Italy. It is the early 1960s and the height of the Cold War. Brad's father is assigned to top secret work. His mother, a teacher, is grieving over the death of her younger child, a baby, so Brad is left to his own devices quite a bit. He makes quickly makes friends with local boys and is soon fluent in Italian. He comes to love his new home of Lerici - perhaps a little too well. The stories are not predictable in the least. In "Poison," Brad confronts a supposed witch over the death of his beloved cat, and learns that she, too, has lost something precious to her. "The Bleeding Child" is a strange, terrifying tale of the tiny village of Magusa, which appears to be haunted by the cry of a lonely infant. My favorite is "Heart of Hearts," which is about Brad's relationship with the mysterious Livia, who is obsessed with Percy Bysshe Shelley, the legendary poet who drowned near Lerici. The ending ("Sun and Stone") is surprising, but very fitting. You might even say fate. Recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Iris

    There are so many sub-categories of fantasy these days that it's only natural for someone to get confused (I know I do). But this is how I do it: if the fantasy world, the whirlwind ride I willingly place myself in--be it a book, a movie, or something else--requires that I place my concept of "reality" aside, and when the ride is over I take the other "reality" and replace it with my own, firmly, then it's some form of fantasy. If, like in McAllister's The Village Sang to the Sea, my concept of r There are so many sub-categories of fantasy these days that it's only natural for someone to get confused (I know I do). But this is how I do it: if the fantasy world, the whirlwind ride I willingly place myself in--be it a book, a movie, or something else--requires that I place my concept of "reality" aside, and when the ride is over I take the other "reality" and replace it with my own, firmly, then it's some form of fantasy. If, like in McAllister's The Village Sang to the Sea, my concept of reality is never set aside, that the otherworld experiences of Brad as a child integrates seamlessly with what could possibly be in my world...that would be "Magical Realism" at its finest. And if I return to the place of my childhood, and wonder if what happened to me when I was Brad's age could possibly have been true, I'd say this book has done its job integrating my reality with that of Brad's...or were they one and the same in the first place...?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    A beautifully lyrical story that transported me to another country and another time. McAllister crafts a beautiful novella covering three life changing years, from 13-15 years of age, in Brad Lattimer's life. Brad's US military father is transferred to Italy and Brad suddenly finds himself in a small fishing village, once the home of Byron and Shelley,fifteen years after World War II. He discovers living in this village infuse everything with magic. Each seemingly unrelated vignette builds to a ha A beautifully lyrical story that transported me to another country and another time. McAllister crafts a beautiful novella covering three life changing years, from 13-15 years of age, in Brad Lattimer's life. Brad's US military father is transferred to Italy and Brad suddenly finds himself in a small fishing village, once the home of Byron and Shelley,fifteen years after World War II. He discovers living in this village infuse everything with magic. Each seemingly unrelated vignette builds to a haunting climax and a surprising ending.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    A beautifully written story. Mr. McAllister draws you into a magical world that feels completely real and tangible. Part of me wants to visit the enchanting village by the sea, to watch the mysterious lizards, maybe spy the strange girl on the beach...but the other part of me, a bigger part, is too afraid to venture there and much prefers learning the village's secrets from the safety of a book. A fantastic read! A beautifully written story. Mr. McAllister draws you into a magical world that feels completely real and tangible. Part of me wants to visit the enchanting village by the sea, to watch the mysterious lizards, maybe spy the strange girl on the beach...but the other part of me, a bigger part, is too afraid to venture there and much prefers learning the village's secrets from the safety of a book. A fantastic read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Hovanec

    JUST STARTING HOPE I HAVE A MAGICAL JOURNEY! THE STORIES ARE GREAT THEY TAKE YOU ON A MAGICAL ADVENTURE OF SOMETIMES MAYHEM BUT ITS A GOOD READ! AAAWWW KINDA SAD TOWARDS THE END BUT LIFE DOES MOVE FORWARD AND ITS ALL GOOD,, I TRUELY ENJOYED THIS BOOK, SO WILL YOU! ALL THINGS COME FULL CIRCLE AND SOMETHINGS WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED I LOVED THIS BOOK! PMH

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ileana Araguti

    In his lyrical memoir of magic, Bruce McAllister magically transports you to different worlds, yet you wish to remain in the captivating village of Lerici, Italy. The events that flow through this beautiful book are enchanting and riveting. The Village Sang to the Sea is an unforgettable book—a MUST read!—Ileana Araguti, author of Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer B

    I read and finished it all today. I did not really enjoy the describing of the towns, but as soon as it got into the magic, I really enjoyed it. I liked the love and magic mixed all into one. It was kind of weird, but interesting. I enjoyed the read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    A beautiful book, inside and out. The prose was beautiful, the story engaging and villagers and their beliefs made real, yet magical. I loved it. I received this book for free through a Goodreads author giveaway.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jo-Anne Vandermeulen

    Evocative, Authentic, Beautiful and Completely Compelling Memoir of Magic!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Donald McLean

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  26. 4 out of 5

    Deb

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Widdowson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Angela Ablaberdieva

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mark Catalfano

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  31. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  32. 4 out of 5

    Kim Friant

  33. 4 out of 5

    Ali

  34. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

  35. 4 out of 5

    Freya

  36. 4 out of 5

    Christina Browne

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  38. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  39. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Gates

  40. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Ann

  41. 4 out of 5

    Arwen S

  42. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  43. 4 out of 5

    Alaina Maxam

  44. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  45. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  46. 5 out of 5

    Gordon Bingham

  47. 5 out of 5

    Kim Coomey

  48. 5 out of 5

    Christiane

  49. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

  50. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

  51. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

  52. 5 out of 5

    Barry

  53. 4 out of 5

    Mary A.

  54. 4 out of 5

    Raquel

  55. 5 out of 5

    Jose

  56. 5 out of 5

    Cory

  57. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  58. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  59. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

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