Summary from Amazon:
'My mum killed my dad, then dragged his body all the way along the beach . . . I don't believe a word of it'
Max Cassidy is a teenage escapologist, so good he’s nicknamed the Half-pint Houdini. His father disappeared two years ago and his body has never been found. His mother is now serving a life sentence for her husband’s murder.
Max’s mission to learn the truth about his family takes him on an thrilling journey, from London to the horrors of the terrifying Shadow Island in central America.
Escapology is dangerous but not nearly as dangerous as real life . . .
I received this book on Friday and was sooo excited to read about an escapologist that I started it right away and the story was so brilliant that I read it in a day! I couldn't put the book down and I thought it is a fantastic idea for a series!
Okay, so I might need to add "don't do this at home" for the kids and all that!
(there's a disclaimer in the first pages of the book and I literally jumped to read what they meant - I'm one tough cookie that way)
The idea of this book is such sheer brilliantness that I have been jumping up and down thinking about it! FINALLY we get to know how those annoyingly smug people who get cuffed, chained and thrown underwater in a bag manage to get out of there when normal people like myself would just drown (well, I might be able to get free too you know, it's not like I've ever tried, but I could be a fantastic escapologist for all I know)!
Anyways, this book is made of awesome! Max Cassidy is your regular 14 year old North London kid, except that every now and then he goes on a stage and fascinates hundreds of people by getting free of cuffs and chains and other. He learned everything from his father who was a brilliant escapologist himself. Max's mother is serving a heavy sentence for (allegedly!) killing her husband. Max is living with his father's stage assistant Consuela and pays himself for his education with his work. Life is tough, but Max is a great kid and goes through this without complaining.
When he learns that there is a chance his father could in fact not be dead and that his mother could finally be set free, Max doesn't hesitate and goes directly to Santo Domingo to find out what happened two years ago! Max puts himself in the most dangerous position but he is not without resources thanks to his escapologist talents!
It is a fantastic adventure through and through and I really loved how unique the story is. Being in Max's mind when he does his tricks is priceless and you really get how the "tricks" work! There are so many books on invented magic that we sometimes forget that the existent magic is a game of illusions and is as breathtakingly impressive as the imaginary one we can invent. I really can't wait to read more of Max in future books!
The book is written in a third-person point of view and follows Max. The style is fast-paced and will make you stay at the edge of your seat during the entire book. there are some funny moments as well and you will love Max's personality full of courage, sense of justice and a good dose of attitude!
Fans of Artemis Fowl and Alex Rider will love this book, there is fantastic action and the originality of the escapologist angle is absolutely brilliant since kids can always go take classes on this or go watch shows by real magicians (which are age appropriate, that goes without saying!).
A zillion thank yous to RHCB for this brilliant book!
Escape from Shadow Island by Paul Adam | Random House Children's Books | April 2011 | 282 pages | 11+, Adventure