When his stage-magician family vanishes for real, can Balthazar find them?
The Fabulosos may perform on stage, but they also have real magic…all except Balthazar; he’s normal, and he wishes his family were. Hoping he will blossom late, his parents are positive and encouraging, but they are wrapped up in the family business. At a Christmas performance at the dinner theater where they work, they are heckled by rival magic family the Fistulas—and they disappear. A social worker leaves Balthazar with his wayward uncle, Ignatius. When the Fistulas disappear too (after taking over the dinner theater), their magic-using daughter, Pagan, joins the hunt for the missing magicians. Evidence mounts that someone is using anti-magical Gloaming, but will the International Brotherhood of Real Stage Magic help, or is the trio on their own? With references above the ken of the target audience and a few plot missteps, scriptwriter Brindle’s debut fizzles like damp magician’s powder. Balthazar is a passable Everykid, but the world around him never jells, nor is the tension tense. Pagan’s occasional between-chapter “Log Entries” are unfunny and unnecessary. Judging by Walker’s illustrations, the Fabulosos and Fistulas are white.
Sleight of hand behind this bag of tricks is all too slight, no magic here. (Fantasy. 9-12)