The Marvelwood Magicians
by Diane Zahler
Narrated by Sarah Zimmerman
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 01 Oct 2019 | Archive Date 21 Dec 2020
Publisher Spotlight Audio, Live Oak Media
Eleven-year-old Mattie Marvelwood comes from a family of traveling performers. Her dad is an illusionist; her mom is a fortune-teller; her brother has a vanishing act; and she herself is a mind-reader. But the Marvelwoods have a deep secret.
The acts they perform at carnivals, fairs, and circuses are not just acts. Their powers are real. In all their wanderings, the Marvelwoods have never met another performer with gifts like theirs—until they join Master Morogh’s Circus of Wonders! But it turns out that Master Morogh’s true talent is stealing the gifts of others. When he steals Mattie’s brother’s vanishing ability, the family has a big decision to make. Do they run, leaving Bell’s gift behind to save the rest of them, or risk exposure by trying to beat the duplicitous ringmaster at his own game?
"A hair-raising, exhilarating, big-top mystery." – Kirkus Reviews
"The Marvelwoods are mighty interesting...The suspenseful plot moves quickly, and Zahler vividly portrays the unbearable pain of losing an innate part of one's self...Bound to entice voracious and reluctant readers alike." – School Library Journal
"This is a wonderful tale of bravery, friendship, and mystery under the big top!" – School Library Connection
"Zahler has created realistic characters with believable emotions, and the circus setting is dynamic and full of exciting activity. (A)n engaging, well executed fantasy." – Booklist
Average rating from 45 members
What a wonderful middle grade book full of excitement and suspense!! This is the story of Mattie and her family, each of whom has a special power, powers that they travel around the country earning a living with. However, they keep their special talents secret to avoid any problems. Mattie is tired of being different, tired of keeping secrets, and most of all she wishes they had one place to call home where they could put down roots. When their truck breaks down on the outskirts of a little town called Frog Creek, their lives change forever when they are hired by a circus that has just set up in town. Strange things start to happen though, especially when the ringmaster is around, and the circus folk have to band together with Mattie and her family to protect each other. This story touched on everything: love, family, friendships, bravery, and growing up. The lessons learned in this book are numerous too - being different is ok, home is not always a place but rather the people who are part of your life, too much power can corrupt a person, and how sometimes you don’t appreciate something until you are in danger of losing it. Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this audiobook. The narration was very good, and I would highly recommend this to children and adults alike.
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC Audiobook! The Marvelwoods are a family of five traveling performers: Scottish father who creates illusions, Indian mother who sees the future, eleven-year-old Mattie who knows what people are thinking, nine-year-old brother who turns invisible, and four-year-old sister who levitates. But what people don’t know is that the Marvelwoods’ acts are real; the Marvelwoods have real magic. Mattie, though, doesn’t like knowing what people are thinking nor does she like always moving around and her mother’s strict rules. She wants friends her age and to go to an actual school. So when Marvelwoods join Morough’s Circus of Wonders and Mattie meets Selena, a girl her age, it feels like her wishes are coming true. But there is something creepy with Morough and with people suddenly losing their skills and acts. How should the Marvelwoods react: run for safety or risk exposure to beat the ringmaster at his own game? This was such a cute story! Mattie is a realistic eleven-year-old whose problems will definitely resonate with young readers. But her dynamic story line is subtle enough so that her growth feels natural and well-paced. Also, the circus backdrop added such a fun element – and the perfect avenue to sprinkle in bits of magic in a realistic setting. Moreover, the narrator, Sarah Zimmermon, did a fantastic job with the father’s, Morough’s and Maya’s accents; I really felt the characters come to life! Finally, I loved the ultimate lesson that family comes first. All the Marvelwoods face lessons that redefine their knowledge of “family comes first” so that eventually they grow closer together as a family in a natural and emotional conclusion. However, I never fully understood Morough’s devious plans. Yes, his backstory makes sense and the power to always know what people think make sounds attractive, but why Mattie’s talent? He wasn’t planning to abandon the circus so what could he really do by knowing people’s thoughts – especially since he’d have to remove his gloves to use his power and that’s something he only does when forced. I guess the climax felt like it was stressing his need for talents in general rather than revealing the expected evil ways he was going to abuse the talents, which in the end didn’t allow the climax to give its true potential. Verdict: Cute and imaginative with timely lessons that will resonate with all readers.