Trouble is brewing in Pergamontio, Italy. The year is 1490 and a deadly plot to overthrow the king is unfolding. Papers demanding change have appeared all over the kingdom all magically the same. Magic is outlawed in Pergamontio, so surely Mangus the Magician must have something to do with this dangerous plot.
Except Mangus isn’t that kind of magician, at least he says so. Mangus’ new servant boy, Fabrizio, is certain his master really can do magic. But he’s also certain Mangus would never commit treason.
If Fabrizio can unravel the mystery and reveal the true traitor he might be able to clear his master’s name. And if Fabrizio can do that, maybe he can finally prove his worth to Mangus and earn the right to remain a part of the Magician’s household in Murder at Midnight (2009) by Avi.
Murder at Midnight is the prequel to Avi’s earlier novel Midnight Magic.
Avi is a widely known and beloved writer. He writes in just about every genre and, throughout his career, has earned a kind of legendary status as an author. He doesn’t disappoint in this book that blends a clever mystery with humor and witty language.
This book is filled with amusing characters and clever language that is straightforward yet subtle enough to appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike. That said, the dynamic of Fabrizio as a servant–often genuflecting and apologizing to his betters–felt a little over the top, not in a bad way but just in an odd way.
Fabrizio might not be the quickest hero at the beginning of the story, but what he lacks in reasoning he more than makes up for in loyalty and ingenuity. Murder at Midnight is a quick, fun read. The period and setting are a good backdrop to the story but won’t distract any readers put off by historical settings. At the same time, without getting into specifics, the time period also plays a very key role in the story.
Possible Pairings: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen, We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C. Alexander London, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak