After Eli Burke dies, his granddaughter, Marjorie, discovers that in his private notebooks, the "White Magician" from the stories he told in her childhood is called the "White Rebbe," a figure out of the Wandering Jew legends on which she's writing her dissertation. The stories contained in the notebooks, involving also the Angel of Losses and a lost letter of the alphabet, not only reveal a lost history of the family but a legacy that must be taken up by the current generation and a possible miracle for Marjorie's sister Holly, from whom she has been estranged since Holly married an Orthodox Jew and converted.
The Angel of Losses is a wonderful mix of magic, history, and folklore (some of it invented). It's also a powerful story of family, of the ties that bind and the ones that people break, or try to, to survive. In a way, it struck me also as the story before a fantasy story- which is not to say that I expect a sequel. It's clearly self contained, but Marjorie ends the story at the brink of something new, and perhaps this isn't the "quest" itself, but the explanation for why Marjorie undertakes it.
Overall Grade: A
The Angel of Losses will be available July 29.