Foreword Reviews

Magic, Machines and the Awakening of Danny Searle

Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5

Science meets magic as the real and the impossible collide in this page-turner that asks the question: “What is a soul?”

Artificial intelligence and medical discovery merge in this trip to the unknown recesses of the mind. In Magic, Machines and the Awakening of Danny Searle, John McWilliams imagines what lies beyond the knowledge accepted by the scientific community, reaching into the brain for answers via an intriguing cast of characters.

Tyler Cipriani, an extraordinary programmer, and his father, a scientist on the cutting edge, are on the verge of creating Prometheus—a man-made entity capable of exceeding human brain capacity. Like any typical young man, Tyler cannot keep his focus entirely on the project when he falls for a captivating woman, Danny, who joins the research team.

Infused in mystery, this riveting heroine is the motivating force behind Tyler—kindling his passion for life and his inner drive. “I wanted to kiss her, but I kept wondering what she was hiding.” Danny’s effervescent personality and talent for magic are enough to sidetrack anyone. When an accident leaves her in a coma, Tyler discovers that this incredible individual is not what she seemed to be on the surface. With the help of an unorthodox Russian neurologist and a big-name magician, he struggles to bring her back to consciousness.

Far-fetched but fascinating, this unusual story teeters between a realistic drama and an impossible scenario, yet without question it’s a page-turner. Its strange, surprise ending may make up for the story veering into a zone of unbelievability. Beneath this science-fiction undertaking is a deeper look at what constitutes a personality and a wider view of what constitutes a soul.

Emphasizing technical material over style and plot over characterization, this “magical” expedition can be compared to a short road trip as opposed to a transcontinental journey with an involved itinerary. Explanations may not satisfy the science-fiction aficionado seeking a plausible illusion, but the reading experience is still an entertaining one. Light on narrative detail and propelled by dialogue, this fairly well-edited novel is interaction-oriented and heavy on conversational debate.

The little description that does exist is specific and focused on details essential to the scene. “The Turret, an octagonally shaped room with windows facing in every direction, had cedar walls and a dome ceiling that reminded me of the upside-down hull of a ship. Probably something to do with my father’s upside-down way of thinking.”

Magic, Machines and the Awakening of Danny Searle is John McWilliams’s writing debut. Despite the book’s rapid-fire presentation of subject matter, the fictitious realm provides the perfect showcase for a mesmerizing exploration of a psychiatric anomaly. Perhaps it matters little whether the conclusion is plausible.

Reviewed by Julia Ann Charpentier

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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