Six latchkey children have been secretly meeting at the home of one of them, Willy, while their parents are at work. They are subtly terrorized by Willy's new neighbor, Harold, who blackmails and tricks them into vandalism and theft before Willy finally stands up to him. Actually, there's no good reason why the children shouldn't have been together sharing snacks and TV, but their secrecy gives Harold his initial hold on them. Harold is obviously disturbed--a pathological liar and perhaps more (his stepbrother recently died in a questionable accident). Tension builds as Harold's sneaky nastiness becomes more evident and as the others try to outwit and escape his schemes. Harold's power seems all too possible. And Willy's introspective search for courage to withstand him is well drawn, though his maturity at 13 sometimes seems at odds with his sense of helplessness. Rachel, his best ally, provides common sense and a sturdy independence. The title's promise of ""magic"" is misleading, however; the story is not likable and the conclusion abrupt. Still, compelling.