The Red Magician is a story about Kicsi, a young girl living in a remote village in Eastern Europe during the 1940s. Kicsi believes in magic: in the rabbi’s ability to perform miracles and to curse people, and in the wondrous tricks of an enigmatic traveler, Vörös. Kicsi yearns for adventure, but first she finds horror and trauma. There are three parts to this novel – Kicsi’s life in the village and the conflict between her traveler friend and the rabbi; the advent of the Holocaust and its impact on Kicsi and her village, including Kicsi’s transportation to and imprisonment in a concentration camp; and the return journey Vörös and Kicsi make to confront the rabbi, who has conflated his enemies into Voros.
The whole explores the journey of a young girl from childhood to adulthood, which challenges the child’s belief in magic. It’s about the effects of trauma, the destructive power of fear, grief, and hate, and the redeeming power of love and compassion. It’s about survival.