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A Bitter Magic
Contributor(s): Townley, Roderick (Author)

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ISBN: 0449816494     ISBN-13: 9780449816493
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
OUR PRICE: $14.44  

Binding Type: Hardcover - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: November 2015

Annotation: When a famous magician's assistant disappears during a packed performance, her eccentric daughter and a rambunctious friend team up to solve the mystery by investigating such clues as broken mirrors, shifting labyrinths and a closet filled with whispering ball gowns. Simultaneous eBook.
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
- Juvenile Fiction | Mysteries, Espionage, & Detective Stories
- Juvenile Fiction | Performing Arts - General
Dewey: FIC
LCCN: 2014013601
Lexile Measure: 500(Not Available)
Physical Information: 1.1" H x 5.6" W x 8.3" (0.88 lbs) 304 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 178146
Reading Level: 3.7   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 7.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): RODERICK TOWNLEY has taught in Chile on a Fulbright Fellowship, worked in New York as a journalist, and now writes from his home in Kansas. His books have received many stars and accolades including Book Sense 76 Picks and BBYA selections. You can read more about Roderick Townley and his books at rodericktownley.com.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2016 Spring)
Cisley's magician's-assistant mother vanishes during Uncle Asa's magic show. Asa forbids Cisley to leave their castle, forcing her to use her newfound magical abilities to create a black rose--the one thing that might bring her mother back. Disorientingly bizarre elements leave readers off-kilter for much of this idiosyncratic book, but the plot has the internal cohesion to tie up its loose ends.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2015 #6)
When Cisley's beautiful magician's-assistant mother, Marina, vanishes during Uncle Asa's magic show, Cisley and Uncle Asa return alone to their illusion-filled glass- Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.

Reviewed by PW Annex Reviews (Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews)

After Cisley's mother vanishes during a magic act, the 12-year-old returns home to her family's glass castle by the sea. As her Uncle Asa attempts to harness his sister's powers, Cisley tries to solve the mystery of her mother's whereabouts, her father's identity, and her own healing abilities. Townley (The Door in the Forest) mixes the whimsical and the tragic, but the story never quite reconciles the two elements. Cisley struggles to belong, seeking solace with a pet lobster she outfits with a gold collar and takes for seaside walks, while Uncle Asa is obsessed with creating ever-shifting mirrored corridors, a labyrinth maze, and cruel experiments to imbue himself with his Cisley's mother's otherworldly power. Cisley's quirkiness provides some needed levity to an otherwise dark tale, but muddled aspects of the storytelling—including a misplaced last-minute twist and a bloody finale that also tries to tie up the narrative's loose ends with a silver-lining happy ending—keep it from finding a successful balance of reality and illusion. Ages 9–12. (Nov.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2015 October)

Gr 4–6—Cisley watches her mother vanish completely during an illusion act involving a magic mirror, which leaves the 12-year-old alone in a parallel universe with her scheming uncle. Cisley is determined to find her mother and discover what kinds of magic are pure illusion and what kinds are real. Along the way, Cisley uncovers powers of her own. Unfortunately, she's stuck in Uncle Asa's Crystal Castle, a bizarre mansion (and tourist destination) filled with shifting mazes. Her loneliness and isolation aren't helped by her uncle's elitist attitude toward the servants and residents of the local community. Cisley's only friends are Elwyn, her pet lobster, and her tutor, Miss Porlock. By gradually becoming friends with Cole, a village boy, and getting to know the Roma who live in a local encampment, Cisley finds the strength needed to solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance. The world Townley creates is mostly realistic, making the carefully crafted magical elements all the more frightening. The plot will be predictable for many readers, and the characters veer close to cliché, but Townley stays just this side of the line by offering an absorbing mystery and unusual fantastical elements. There are a few humorous aspects, such as when Cisley takes her pet lobster for a walk—which requires bringing a pail filled with water and stopping for repeated dunkings. The ending, both gripping and satisfying, features some darkly violent situations that may leave sensitive readers wide-eyed. VERDICT A magical adventure with a few intriguing clues, a fascinating setting, and some chills that will please most middle graders looking for spooky fantasy.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO

[Page 96]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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