Kirov sends the Magickeepers series off to a promising start with this adventure starring a boy whose life takes a dramatic turn on his 13th birthday. Gazing into a crystal ball at a magic shop, Nick, who lives with his father in a Las Vegas hotel, discovers he can see into the past and then learns that his late mother belonged to a family of powerful Russian magicians dating back to ancient Egypt. Nick is taken in by her eccentric kin, who train him to perform in their elaborate magic show at an enchanted casino. The intricate, well-paced plot involves ancient spells and riddles, historical figures including Rasputin and Harry Houdini, and sinister Shadowkeepers seeking precious talismans, including the crucial ingredient of an hourglass that can stop time. Readers will hear intermittent echoes of another young hero with a magical legacy who is targeted by dark villains (in the magicians' casino, images in paintings move, Hogwarts-style). Still, with dashes of Russian culture and language, Kirov's story feels plenty original, and kids will be charmed by her brand of magic. Ages 9-up. (May)[Page 51]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5-8-As the son of a third-rate stage magician, Nick is familiar with theatrical illusions. On his 13th birthday, however, he discovers that magic is real. He learns that he is one of the ancient Magickeepers, charged with finding and guarding arcane artifacts from the evil Shadowkeepers. Apprenticed to Las Vegas star magician-and chief Magickeeper-Damian, Nick moves into the clan's palatial casino headquarters to begin his training. Although he is impressed by their opulent lifestyle, he feels a bit cramped by the family's almost obsessive devotion to their tsarist Russian heritage-formal dress, caviar crepes instead of cheeseburgers, and no TV or video games. Nick's talent as a Gazer enables him to see into the past. Rasputin, their most powerful enemy, has spent nearly a century hunting the secret to the Eternal Hourglass, a mystical relic with the power to stop time. Now they find that the mad monk and his Shadowkeepers are in Vegas, and he knows that Nick has the key. As the first in a projected series, the book devotes considerable space to background about the Magickeepers and their nefarious rivals. While these passages occasionally slow the pacing, the action is generally suspenseful and the historical references add to the atmosphere. Nick's efforts to introduce the family to American-style food and activities add a touch of humor to the proceedings.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL[Page 87]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.