Smoke and Mirrors

K.D. Halbrook. S&S/Wiseman, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5344-0504-2
In Halbrook’s first middle-grade novel (following the YA novel Every Last Promise, as Kristin Halbrook), two siblings confront a magician’s ancient curse and try to rescue their parents. Fifth grader Sasha’s performing family lives in the colorful Cirque Magnifique, a circuslike show community full of pomp and plumage. When Sasha and her younger brother, Toddy, attend school for the first time, they’re thrust into the drab, conformist world on the other side of their island. After some particularly chilling bullying from fellow students, Sasha’s outburst about it at home unwittingly invites in a mysterious smoke that transforms her parents into birds. As Sasha and Toddy struggle to survive on their own, the narrative drags a bit, but it gains speed after they embark on a quest to the Edge of the World to find their parents and “destroy the Smoke for good.” The powerful sibling bond anchors the narrative on the island and during the journey, and propels this inventive fantasy. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/22/2018
Release date: 09/04/2018
MP3 CD - 978-1-72137-312-3
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