Gichi Manidoo

Fiction - Audiobook
Audio Book
Reviewed on 08/15/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lois Henderson for Readers' Favorite

Gichi Manidoo by Charles J. Musser tells of a realtor, Federico Garcia, a PTSD-suffering veteran from the conflict in Afghanistan, who befriends Marie, the woman whose husband’s house he is trying to sell. Marie, who appears to be a profoundly troubled woman, takes a sudden tumble down the stairs under what appears to be suspicious circumstances and falls into a coma from which she appears unlikely to recover. Elizabeth, a teenage girl, tells Federico that only by listening to a magical tale will Marie be able to survive. Herewith starts the story within a story that is akin to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as Elizabeth tells of another world entered through a rabbit hole, where she meets a wide range of talking animals.

The magic realism of Musser’s Gichi Manidoo is entrancing in its profundity—by enabling the animals to philosophize about occurrences in the outer world, the reader is able to gain perspective on the harsh realities of a sometimes brutal world. I thoroughly enjoyed the whimsical way in which the animals speak to one another. It frees the thought processes from the confinements of a (sometimes rigidly) structured society, in which we are so often subjected to mechanistic control over which we have minimal control. Musser’s intimate and sensitive portrayal of the different animals made me want to accept his poetic vision of our fractured world. I especially loved Musser’s descriptions of the meerkat, as they are such winning creatures, with clear and unique characteristics of their own.

While the outer frame of the audiobook of Gichi Manidoo is narrated by Alan Silva, who has a deeply reassuring and well-rounded voice, Francesca Del Greco, with a much higher-pitched voice that she varies appealingly enough from one creature to another, narrates the inner frame. An essential component of magical realism is that what would otherwise be regarded as magical (such as talking animals) is rendered acceptable as the norm of everyday existence. With this audiobook, the world of the inner frame shows the sharp distinction between Silva’s sonorous masculine tone and Del Greco’s feminine and almost childlike sharper tone. It is a highly professional recording and makes for intriguing listening.

K.C. Finn

Gichi Manidoo is a contemporary fairy tale allegory for adults and was penned by author Charles J. Musser. It is narrated in audiobook format by both Francesca Del Greco and Alan Silva, forming an ethereal and multi-voice listening experience. This masterful first novel puts us into the lives of Fede, Elizabeth, and Marie as tragedy and hardship strike them. Marie is trapped in a bad marriage that turns even worse when she falls down a flight of stairs, and Fede suspects that he knows who is really to blame. But things change when Fede meets the truly magical Elizabeth, sparking a journey to the bizarre and mysterious, but also that of self-discovery.

Lyrical and powerful, the plot of Charles J. Musser’s whimsical but poignant adventure novel is one for the ages. I found the plot points of Gichi Manidoo woven seamlessly into recognizable but totally reinvented fairy tale tropes, which give both a sense of nostalgia and newness to the narrative form. The true stories behind the human tragedies that Federico and Marie have both lived through are harrowing, but fantastically veiled and viewed in a whole new way by the author’s imaginative setting.

In terms of audio quality, the narration takes on a life of its own and further serves to heighten the lyrical, fairy tale qualities of the text. Both Francesca Del Greco and Alan Silva give gorgeous authenticity to the tale with their rich voices, giving a well-balanced portrayal of serious moments and wild, fantastical happenings. The editing is clear and crisp, making Gichi Manidoo a smooth listening experience that will truly transport you away.

Renee Guill

Gichi Minidoo by Charles J Musser is a bittersweet love story. Charles J Musser uses four different POVs to tell the story. It’s about two people falling in love, Frederico and Marie, but one has PTSD and the other is in an abusive marriage. How far would you go for true love and how far would you go for friendship? Charles J Musser shows a whole other “reality” to help tell the story. It has an Alice in Wonderland feel to it. He uses two narrators, Francesca Del Greco and Alan Silva, for the audiobook version which helps differentiate the POVs.

Gichi Minidoo by Charles J Musser is beautifully written. I loved how Charles J Musser uses a second reality to share Marie’s story. Zaggy the Meerkat was actually a lovable creature, one that you’d like to have for a friend. Then there were a few other creatures too, like a coyote. The world-building was incredible, especially the alternate reality part. The scenery sounded breathtaking. It was a short read compared to most fantasy stories and in fact, I wish it hadn’t ended. It is definitely a bittersweet story, and you might want to have tissues nearby. This would make a wonderful movie.

I love audiobooks although I admit I wasn’t used to hearing two narrators. Alan Silva did the voice for Frederico; he has a Spanish accent. I thought he did a decent job and he did a great job showing the emotions and accents of a couple of minor characters. Francesca Del Greco was very enjoyable. She has a British accent but did a wonderful job with other accents. She portrayed a lot more characters. I loved listening to her voice and want to find more audiobooks by her. The production was well done. Even though there is more than one POV, you never got confused as to which one character you were listening to.