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Midnight magic

by Avi


Book Review

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Publishers Weekly :

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Taut and suspenseful, this vivid mystery set in an imaginary kingdom of Renaissance Italy is vintage Avi. The story starts with a bang as an unmarked coach arrives one stormy night at the home of Mangus the magician, who is under house arrest for his knowledge of the dark arts. Mangus, as readers quickly learn, is no wizard but a former entertainer, and he in fact scoffs at the notion of magic. He protests vigorously when he is summoned to the castle (along with his 12-year-old servant, Fabrizio) and ordered to help free the princess from her visions of a terrifying ghost. All is not as it seems, however, as the pair discover a court intrigue involving a missing prince, a murder, hidden passageways and the king's Machiavellian adviser, Count Scarazoni. Weaving in the age-old clash between superstition and reason, Avi creates a sort of 15th-century Holmes and Watson in the characters of Mangus and Fabrizio, who continually trade aphorisms (" `Fabrizio, if you buy with ignorance, you will be paid with the same coin.' `But, Master, you know what people say, False gold often buys more than iron' "). With snappy dialogue, nonstop action and lavishly embroidered period backdrops, this will please Avi's fans and may well win over some new ones. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 5-9-Avi takes readers to 15th-century Italy in this entertaining tale of mystery and intrigue. Twelve-year-old Fabrizio is the servant of Mangus the Magician. When the king's daughter claims to have seen a ghost, the magician and the boy are summoned to the castle. The evil Count Scarazoni wants to prove the ghost is not real so that his wedding to the princess will not be postponed. Young Fabrizio uses trickery, recklessness, and bravado to ferret out clues, spying in castle halls and secret passages. His master, meanwhile, relies on pure reason to reach the truth. Between the two of them, they are able to unveil a web of plots and deceptions, and then find a way to thwart the count and save their own skins. The quick pace and several plot twists will keep readers turning pages. The mystery will keep them guessing, but it never becomes too complicated to follow. Fabrizio makes an appealing hero. His cleverness is often outdone by the schemes of others involved, but his courage and curiosity make up the difference. The boy often injects witty aphorisms into his conversation, and his enthusiasm and energy contrast entertainingly with the calm wisdom of his master. The villainous count is less fully drawn, as is the king, but the queen and the princess develop entertainingly as the story progresses. Most of the tale takes place within the "castello," and descriptions of the dark hallways, hidden staircases, and gloomy dungeon make a delightfully atmospheric setting for this historical mystery.-Steven Engelfried, Deschutes County Library, Bend, OR

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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