Warning: The content of these questions will reveal key details of the plot.



  1. One of the major themes of the novel is that “time isn’t real,” as Glenn tells Magnus. What implications does this theme have for the various characters, in terms of how they live their lives? What do you make of the Einstein quote that “the separation between the past, present, and the future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.” If time isn’t real, then what is it that we seem to experience?
  1. It’s clear that many of the characters are actually the same person in different points in time. Matilda and Amelia, for example, are two aspects of the same woman, just as Glenn, Magnus, and Elliott are all the same person. What other characters, minor or major, may also be aspects of these same people, and why do you think so?
  1. What do minor characters like the farmers, the firefighters, the young rich man, the man in white and the bald man who knows the way home represent? Can you think of other examples?
  1. What might have happened to Magnus had the mouse and vultures never entered his life?
  1. How do the vultures stitch the story together?
  1. What role do the various animals (mouse, vultures, crows, raven, toad, dogs, skunk etc.) play in the novel? Magnus wonders early on in the novel if the animals are signs? Does he believe in “animal signs” by the end of the story? Do you?
  1. Elliott is fascinated with caterpillars and snakes. Ultimately, what do these represent, and how do they affect Magnus?
  1. How could Magnus have gotten so far away from what he was as Elliott in so relatively short a time?
  1. How does meeting Magnus change Elliott? Do you expect Elliott to become the same Magnus later in life? Do you think Elliott will remember Magnus when he’s as old as Magnus?
  1. At first Magnus thinks Glenn is odd and perhaps crazy, but he eventually comes to respect him and his counsel. At what point do you feel this occurs?
  1. Is Glenn as wise and at peace as he seems? Why or why not?
  1. In what ways does writing poetry serve Magnus, both before and after meeting Glenn?
  1. How likely is it that the Magnus at the center of this story was once the Elliott in Glenn’s story? Or is this a singular occurrence?
  1. Why do you think the writer subtitled the story “A Modern Fable” rather than “A fantasy novel” or something similar?
  1. What is the significance of the book burial scene?
  1. In your opinion, what do the wolves guarding the cabin where Magnus meets Matilda and Elliott again represent?
  1. Does Magnus meet his “dragon?” What do the references to dragons mean to you?
  1. At what point did you suspect you knew where The Secret Bookstore was?
  1. Do you think Magnus ever learns to walk on water again?
  1. Now that Magnus and Matilda are together in this version of Magnus’ life, what do you think lies ahead for them? Have they broken the chain of loss between Glenn and Amelia?