The Delusionist

Candlewick. Oct. 2021. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763696894.
Gr 8 Up–Quinn and best friend Perry hope to win the Masters of Magic Fantasy Camp competition with their magical duo act. However, introverted Quinn decides it is time to get out from under Perry’s shadow and develop an act of his own, so he lies to his friend and claims the competition rules allow only single acts. When Quinn meets the Dazzling Lazlo, an ex-magician turned con artist, he agrees to help him swindle money from unsuspecting victims to obtain the secret of the Monkey’s Paw, a magic trick that Quinn thinks will clinch the competition. Quinn, the aspiring illusionist, becomes a delusionist whose lies ultimately backfire on him. The book is written exclusively from Quinn’s first-person point of view which reveals the extent of his jealousy of Perry as well as his guilt over lying to his best friend. Quinn also finds himself awkwardly crushing on Dani Darling, a talented rival magician who he suspects is trying to sabotage his act. The teen’s inner angst is balanced with a series of wacky, humorous events that are, at times, borderline absurd, such as when Quinn describes his parents’ community theater production The Hominid’s Lament starring singing cavemen. The dialogue is occasionally a bit too adult sounding to make the teen characters feel genuine, and the conflict wraps up a little too conveniently. However, readers looking for a humorous story will laugh and cringe at Quinn’s flawed decision-making. All the main characters are white.
VERDICT Recommended for teens looking for a light read.

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