This fun adventure story revels in the awe and wonder of magic tricks and the showpeople who perform them. It’s an original and engaging idea that is told through the eyes of Flick Lions, a young pretender with a point to prove and a grudge to bear.
The Great Fox was a celebrity magician, who chose to leave his legacy in the form of a sensational game show, in which young magicians compete to win ownership of his famous back catalogue. Flick is one of only three children talented enough to solve the secrets of a complex trick and earn a place on the show – and she is the only one whose father is another famous magician, who has recently disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Flick is a fierce protagonist and she is determined to bring glory to her family name, but her competitors are talented magicians and some of them are cruel and unkind – quick to ridicule Flick about her disability. Her response is to double-down in her efforts to win, and she still finds energy to show compassion and friendship.
The reality TV show takes place inside the Great Fox’s magical mansion, where Flick and her fellow contestants are under 24-hour surveillance and have to compete against one another while tackling tricks and traps set by the Fox himself. It soon becomes clear that Flick is not the only contestant with an ulterior motive for winning, and the children’s back stories are a rich vein of intrigue that offer as much mystery as any of the Fox’s tricks.
It’s a very clever format: the whole book feels like a stage trick slowly unraveling, giving just enough away to make the audience feel they have spotted the secret, just before unveiling yet another twist. Like all magicians, Edwards never reveals all the story’s secrets, leaving a number of loose ends (which can frustrate, at times) and plenty of room for sequels.