From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—As the first embers of the French Revolution begin to burn, Yann Margoza, a 14-year-old voice thrower and mind reader, watches his simple life as a magician's assistant disappear before his eyes. During one fateful midnight performance at the chateau of an overindulgent, debt-ridden marquis, a string of irreversible events unfurls. Jolted from the only world he's known, Yann becomes inextricably intertwined with the marquis's 12-year-old daughter and lecherous, treacherous Count Kalliovski. Yann struggles to make the right choices while coming to terms with his origins and unique abilities in order to save those he loves. Gardner deftly plays out the same brand of intrigue, romance, and murky intentions beautifully rendered in recent period magician films, The Prestige
and The Illusionist
. Readers will root for Yann and Sido as they struggle toward adulthood amid the political and social turmoil surrounding and sometimes endangering them. At the book's end, Gardner provides further historical background on late-18th-century France, though most readers will find themselves wishing simply for a sequel to continue this engrossing tale.—Jill Heritage Maza, Greenwich High School, CT
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*Starred Review* A Gypsy boy, Yann, and the dwarf who has raised him are caught up in drama on and off the stage, where they work with a magician and his automaton. Outside their Parisian theater, revolution is beginning to boil. Inside, the magician is murdered by the villainous Count Kallovski, who has Yann in his sights as well. So begins a finely crafted tale that crosses years and crisscrosses countries, as Yann becomes a young man with a mission: to save the lovely Sido from her heartless father, even as he struggles with the extraordinary gifts bestowed upon him by his Gypsy heritage. If the success of historical fiction depends on how well setting and story mesh, this is a very successful book, indeed. Gardner sweeps readers into a turbulent time, dissecting eighteenth-century French society and the evolution of the revolution, from a yearning for liberty to a chaotic bloodbath. The history becomes personal when seen through the eyes of an astoundingly rich, carefully drawn cast, whose lives are interwoven like pieces of string in an elaborate cat’s cradle. Scores are waiting to be settled on every page; this is a heart-stopper. Grades 9-12. --Ilene Cooper