Young Nick Rostov has spent his life in Las Vegas hotels. He is the son of one of the worst magicians on or off the Strip. If only his father were like the great Damian; tickets to his shows are sold out three years in advance.
On the night of his thirteenth birthday, Nick's grandfather takes him to Madame Bogdonovich's Magical Curiosity Shoppe, where the boy is given a chance to look into a crystal ball. Nick thinks his grandfather is crazy—everyone knows that crystal balls are a hoax. But to appease the old man, he takes a look, and to his amazement, he can see far back in time. Nick, however, is unable to foretell where this newly discovered skill will take him.
The magic in Kirov's novel is of three kinds: There are the familiar slight-of-hand magicians like Nick's father and Harry Houdini; there are the black magicians, or Shadowkeepers, such as Rasputin; and then there are the Magickeepers, or good magicians, like Damian. Until his birthday, the only magic Nick knew, was what his father had taught him. But within days, the boy would see firsthand the power of both good and evil magic.
Other themes in this fast-moving middle reader fantasy are the importance of family and learning to trust oneself. Older readers will get a kick out of the "true" stories behind Houdini's skills and ultimate death, the fate of Russia's Princess Anastasia, and why Rasputin seemed to be impossible to kill.
Don't look for wizards or dragons or unicorns; Magickeepers is all about the magic and takes place firmly in our world. On the other hand, there is much to spark a youngster's wonder and imagination, and the end of the book leaves us wanting to know more about Nick and his further adventures.
This book will appeal to nine- to twelve-year-olds looking for a new fantasy series that features a young boy who is easy to relate to. Girls will be drawn to Nick's cousin Isabella and several other woman characters. Magickeepers is a bit young for high schoolers, but fans of the genre shouldn't hesitate to read the novel.
You can learn a little more about Erica Kirov on Sourcebook's website.
Published by Sourcebooks, 2009
Challenges: A-Z Author, 999, 100+