Twelve-year-old Clay’s misgivings about magic are tested in this enjoyable if overlong trilogy opener. Max-Ernest, from Bosch’s bestselling Secret Series, has disappeared mysteriously. His younger brother Clay is left feeling stung and resentful, and he’s as shocked as everyone else when the words “MAGIC SUCKS!” somehow—almost magically—migrate from his private journal to a classroom wall. This inexplicable graffiti mural gets Clay sent to Earth Ranch, a summer camp for “struggling youth” located on an island with an active volcano. Bosch’s arch narrative voice carries over from his previous books, and that humor helps buoy a story that takes its time getting to the big revelations of its final chapters. From The Tempest and Lord of the Flies to shows like Gilligan’s Island and Lost, cultural allusions abound as Clay tries to understand the island’s many mysteries and meets his fellow campers. Gilbert’s watercolors bring in additional humor, especially a scene of Clay’s mother Skyping in to a family meeting. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/14/2014 Release date: 09/16/2014 Genre: Children's
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