Book Review: Deep in Providence by Riss M. Neilson

About the Book:

Title: Deep in Providence

Author: Riss M. Neilson

Publication Date: May 31, 2022

Publisher: Henry Holt

Synopsis: 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. 

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon | Book Depository

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My Review:

A story about loss and life, family issues, friendship, and so many other important and relevant topics, Deep in Providence is a brilliant novel. It’s emotional and raw and magical, and its thought-provoking themes, dynamic characters, and unique plot made for an engrossing read. The story follows three teenage girls as they grieve the loss of their mutual friend, who died in a tragic car accident. Determined to bring Jasmine back, the girls work together using magic in the hopes that it’s not too late for her lingering spirit. But the more they work on their magic, the darker and more haunted life becomes.

The story is told from the perspectives of the three teens, Miliani, Inez, and Natalie, who lost their friend Jasmine. Each character is well developed, layered, and has a distinct voice, and I love that you get the thoughts and feelings of each girl. The story is not just about the girls dealing with the sudden and tragic death of their friend and fighting to bring her back using magic. It’s also about their personal journeys as they face complex, life-changing situations. Though Jasmine’s death and the plan to get her back are at the forefront of the story, Miliani, Inez, and Natalie each face so many other issues, including family pressures, drug addiction, relationship troubles, and more. Their stories are a fascinating and balanced blend of magic and realism, and I found each character’s journey unique and interesting.

The story takes place in Rhode Island, and as a native of the state, I loved reading about cities, attractions, and landmarks that I’ve frequented. Many of the places Miliani, Inez, and Natalie go to are less than a mile from my house, and I could easily picture these girls hanging out at the local park down the street from my house, heading to a beach a town over from me, and working on the same street where my dad grew up. Of course, if you aren’t a lifelong resident of Rhode Island like me, no need to worry. The writing, which pulls you right into the story, is engaging and immersive, and the author’s use of imagery, symbolism, and figurative language enhances the setting, mood, and tone.

The plot is as richly layered as the characters, and the way that it weaves real world issues into a magical and suspenseful story is masterful. I was equally invested in the real world issues, which include sex, sexuality, guilt, immigration issues, difficulties in relationships, drug use and abuse, and unexpected pregnancy, as I was in the magic. Both are fleshed out well and compelling.

The plot is also well-paced, and I enjoyed how the suspense and intensity increased as the story progressed. It definitely made for some nail-biting moments, especially as you get closer to the story’s climax, and the unexpected twists added to the intensity. Just when I thought I had everything figured out, something else happened that changed everything, and I love that! It’s not a predictable read, and it went in surprising (in a good way) directions. And the magic is so fascinating and complex, and I was eager to learn more about the inherited gifts and the friends’ use of it to bring back their best friend. It highlighted some interesting and thought-provoking ideas about the use and abuse of magic, as well as the ramifications of using magic you don’t understand even with good intentions.

A story about grief, loss, guilt, friendship, family, magic, and so much more, Deep in Providence is incredibly moving and powerful, and it’s a story that I’ll think about for a long time to come. I’m so grateful to the author and publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. Deep in Providence is a brilliant debut novel by Riss M. Neilson, and I look forward to reading more by this talented, thought-provoking storyteller.


Favorite Parts:

  • The dynamically developed characters.
  • The magic.
  • The setting.

Favorite Lines:

How do I stand up for myself without knowing what’s worth fighting for?

What if, in my final moments, I regret not following the rules laid out for me?

A bond founded on lies is no bond at all.


I would recommend checking the content warnings before reading the book. It does focus on subjects that could be triggers for some readers.

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