The Magic Kingdom

Books on Tape. Nov. 2022. 14:12 hrs. ISBN 9780593627914. $95. F
As a child, Harley Mann moved from the pastoral paradise of a Ruskinite colony to an impoverished plantation, finally landing at the Floridian Shaker settlement of New Bethany. Having lost his father, Harley was immediately and indelibly drawn to Elder John Bennett, their mysterious, masculine leader. Presented as a transcript of Mann’s musings, the narrative follows his journey through love and loss as he grows from an innocent religious novitiate into an intrepid real estate developer who would eventually see his Shaker Shangri-La become the site of Walt Disney World. Banks (Lost Memory of Skin) crafts an eloquent literary fiction full of immersive detail and engaging drama. Narrator Danny Campbell transports listeners with his uncomplicated, approachable portrayal of Harley; one can clearly envision the wistful, wily octogenarian ruminating on his front porch. Meanwhile, MacLeod Andrews, featured in the foreword and afterword, adds an air of authenticity as the author who allegedly discovered and transcribed Mann’s recordings.
VERDICT This audio will appeal to listeners seeking a complex, character-driven coming-of-age historical fiction about belonging and betrayal. Recommended for fans of William Kent Krueger, Ann Patchett, and Jonathan Franzen.
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