I grew up in an era when magic was done by Paul Daniels and The Masked Magician. I would watch their performances for hours, fascinated by their ability to make the impossible happen before my very eyes. In more recent times, David Blaine, Dynamo and Derren Brown have all captured my imagination and have delivered the wow factor on another level. Imagine my utter delight when I heard that Justyn Edwards had created a series of books that would dazzle with the art of illusion, impossible trickery and the power of misdirection. Forget wizards, witches and schools for muggles and purebloods, this extravaganza would be magic in its purest, mind-blowing form.
Legendary illusionist The Great Fox has died and a successor is needed. The winner of a contest will inherit all of his magic tricks. Thirteen-year-old Flick Lions has been chosen as one of four participants but she isn’t interested in learning the secrets of old magic tricks, she has a much more personal reason for victory. The Great Fox stole something from her father and ruined her family. She is out to uncover the truth. Inside the Fox’s house house is the greatest trick of all time with the power to change the world of magic forever. Flick is out to find it and maybe, just maybe, bring her father home…
Justyn Edwards’ sparkling debut is one slick read. Brilliantly written, original and fresh, The Great Fox Illusion is a wonderful bag of magic and misdirection, friendship and family, betrayal and revenge, truths and lies. Expect high stakes, high drama and secrets and illusions in abounds as young illusionists battle it out to be crowned the successor to a legendary magician.
Edwards is clearly a fan of magic, I would go as far to say that he probably has a few tricks of his own up his sleeve. Like a master magician, he has you under his spell from first page to last, keeping you guessing, and even when you think you have things worked out another surprise comes along and has you rethinking what you thought you knew. The role of an illusionist is to deceive, to make you doubt, to question what you are seeing, Edwards delivers on all fronts.
Snappy, pacy and suspenseful chapters offer up excitement by the bucketload, making for an unputdownable page-turner that is as captivating as one of David Blaine’s impossible stunts. More than just a tale of trickery, this is a story of the power of friendship and teamwork to overcome adversity and the strength found in resourcefulness and courage to not be slowed down by a disability.
Characters with an amputation are much underrepresented in children’s books and something that we have been crying out for. Step up Flick Lions, a gritty, intelligent, strong-willed and vulnerable individual who does not let her limitations define her. Yes, her prosthetic leg - which is sensitively and authentically written about - gives her grief, it can sometimes slow her down and it does cause her pain but she is not defined by this, she is so much more and she is awesome.
If you have the slightest interest in magic acts, fascinating illusions and want to learn some of the secrets behind how the tricks are done then you need to read this book. With a relentless stream of twists, turns and reveals, this is entertainment of the absolute best sort. The cliffhanger ending promises much more and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Recommended for 8+.