Review Blog

May 09 2013

The zigzag effect by Lili Wilkinson

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743313039.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Mystery. Magic shows. Sage is really happy when she gets a job working for the magician, The Great Armand. It means that she can pay for the photography course that she is desperate to do. The job sounds interesting and the fact that Herb the stagehand is cute is also a positive. Then Armand disappears and Herb and Sage get locked into a storeroom overnight, and Sage must weave her way through secrets and magic tricks to uncover the mystery that surrounds Armand's disappearance.
Lili Wilkinson always manages to surprise and delight with her feisty heroines and original stories. The background to The zigzag effect is absolutely fascinating and anyone who is interested in magic tricks will be riveted by her research into what happens to make magic tricks work on the stage. The petty jealousies surrounding the secrecy of how tricks work and the effort that the beautiful assistants put into the show form a unique background to the mystery that Sage is faced with. Superstitions like Bianca believing that breaking a wand on stage will bring bad luck provide suspense and add to the eerie things that seem to be happening in the theatre.
I love the development of characters that Wilkinson shows in this book. Sage is a smart, clever girl who shows initiative and intelligence. She is prepared to find a job to pay for her photography course and looks after her little brother. Her romance with Herb is realistic and often funny. Bianca the magician's beautiful assistant is a well rounded character as well, and Sage's parents are portrayed in a sympathetic light.
This is a book that will appeal to readers who want something different, clever and suspenseful, with lots of funny dialogue scattered throughout.
Pat Pledger

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