The Juggler

John Morressy, Author
John Morressy, Author Henry Holt & Company $16.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4217-7
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Paperback - 261 pages - 978-0-06-447174-9
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-13545-0
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-11723-4
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When the Devil shows up to grant his wish, Beran gladly trades his soul for the ability to juggle flashing daggers, milking stools, goblets of wine, broomsticks and fire. Set in the Middle Ages, the story begins with a mysterious shock, then flashes back to follow a young juggler making his way among knights and charlatans. Sadly, the promising tale soon sinks into a bog of Faustian doom; its bumpy adult ponderings on lost love and unholy temptation may well anesthetize young readers. As Beran wanders from castles to countryside to the Holy Land, he changes from a cocky performer into a haggard pilgrim fleeing his deathly bargain. He gives up juggling to punish himself. He thanks a cruel count who chops off his right hand, a climactic moment revealed so early on-in the opening pages-that the chapters that follow suffer in comparison. Meanwhile, the Devil keeps popping up at inopportune moments like a pesky IRS agent with an overdue tax bill. The author's desire to stick to an historical rather than overtly religious plot paints him into a literary corner. Unable to invoke a chorus of angels to save Beran's soul, the story trails off and finishes as abruptly as a juggler who has dropped one too many balls. Ages 11-up. (Apr.)
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