Deep in Providence
by Riss M. Neilson
Published by Henry Holt
Releasing on May 31st, 2022
YOUNG ADULT FICTION—Fantasy > Magical Realism
For best friends Miliani, Inez, Natalie and Jasmine, Providence, Rhode Island has a magic of its own. From the bodegas and late-night food trucks on Broad Street to The Hill that watches over the city, every corner of Providence glows with memories of them practicing spells, mixing up potions and doing séances with the help of the magic Miliani’s Filipino grandfather taught her.
But when Jasmine is killed by a drunk driver, the world they have always known is left haunted by grief…and Jasmine’s lingering spirit. Determined to bring her back, the surviving friends band together, testing the limits of their magic and everything they know about life, death, and each other.
And as their plan to resurrect Jasmine grows darker and more demanding than they imagined, their separate lives begin to splinter the bonds they depend on, revealing buried secrets that threaten the people they care about most. Miliani, Inez and Natalie will have to rely on more than just their mystical abilities to find the light.
*I WAS PROVIDED A DIGITAL GALLEY VIA EDELWEISS+ IN RETURN FOR MY HONEST REVIEW. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION*
Deep in Providence is a book I didn’t realize I’d been craving until I’d turned to the first page and begun reading. Completely mesmerizing, spell-binding and absolutely entrancing, this book had me wrapped into its magic from the first sentence. Reading this book felt like a good fever dream, and I couldn’t get enough.
One thing I love seeing more of from books is imperfect characters; characters that are allowed to have faults and not expected to be on their A-game 24/7. Riss M. Neilson gave us exactly that in this book, and she delivered us one better–characters that acknowledged, owned up to and bettered themselves with their faults.
Miliani is a character anyone who’s ever lost a loved one can connect with. She’s struggling to grieve the loss of her best friend Jasmine–someone she realized she had feelings for shortly before her death–and she’s barely keeping herself afloat. With the thought of possibly bringing Jasmine back to the world of the living, even if not completely the same or alive, she’s desperate and seeks out the help of her other friends Natalie and Inez.
Miliani was aware of herself throughout the book. She knew that she kept secrets and lied in bits, and she knew that, at certain times, she was taking advantage of her friends. But the same went for Inez and Natalie. When it came to the magic granted to them through their witchcraft, they all used it for something they wanted to gain or better themselves with. This was brought up several times throughout the book, and I loved seeing it.
One of my favorite parts about reading into the characters is seeing their development. Neilson’s character development was emmaculate. She portrayed teenagers that actually sounded like and appeared as teenagers. There were times where all of the girls had to act as adults, be it from problems they faced with their parents or choices they made that came with consequences. When it came to it, it wasn’t pushed onto the reader that because of those actions, the characters now had to act in a “mature” or adult light, but that they were still kids who messed up or were struck with bad givings in life. That outcomes like that happen to people, and it was extremely noteable to me. I found myself highlighting several portions of text because of it.
Magic System –
Up until this point, I was desperately searching for a magically realistic book found its way to me, and Deep in Providence did not disappoint with what it had to give.
I found myself falling into the magic Miliani’s family inherited, and the magic she then taught to her friends. I’m not a fan of ghosts or paranormal stories normally, but this book had me anxiously anticipating its next move. The magic system was very well-crafted, and there were so many layers to it that I didn’t feel lost or confused or wonder why so-and-so had to happen for another so-and-so to work.
I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the pages, and it was easy to just believe that the story itself was real and happening right in front of me. I struggle with being able to picture the words transported into my head sometimes, but I had no difficulty doing so with this one. I could close my eyes and easily imagine exactly what Neilson was describing on page thanks to her incredible descriptions and detailing in every given scene. For some people, they might think that this book came across as too descriptive, and where I would normally agree, I’d disagree for this one. We needed every bit of extra information we could get with this book because without it, this book wouldn’t have been the same in any way.
I will say this again and again: this story and the plot line behind it was brilliant. I had an idea of what would happen by the end of the book, but Neilson made sure that what I was led to believe was not what would occur, and I found myself grieving along with the characters in the ending we were given.
Every bit of storyline, every dialogue that built up to it, even the mischief and deceipt; they were all necessary. It built Deep in Providence to be a shining, beautifully written gift to us readers, and I still can’t get over it.
I loved this book with every fibre of my being. It was beautiful, it was emotional, and it gave me exactly what I was hoping for out of a reading experience. I would absolutely read it again within a heartbeat, and for that, I rate this book 5 stars. I highly suggest this book to all my fellow readers, and I cannot wait to read what Riss M. Neilson will give to us next.
Riss M. Neilson is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Rhode Island College, where she won the English department’s Jean Garrigue Award, which was judged by novelist, Nick White. She is from Providence and lives for the city’s art and culture scene. When she’s not writing, she’s watching anime or playing video games with her two children. Deep in Providence is her debut novel.