I’ve enjoyed books by Diane Zahler in the past, including Baker’s Magic and The Thirteenth Princess, so I was happy when this new offering came up in my Cybils reading last year.
The Marvelwood Magicians by Diane Zahler. Boyds Mills Press, 2017.
Mattie Marvelwood is a telepath, able to read the thoughts of others. She travels from carnival to carnival with her family, all of whom have psychic powers. Her mother is psychic, her father a gifted illusionist, her little brother can literally disappear, and her baby sister floats. They’ve always needed to keep their magic hidden, but when they come to Master Morogh’s Circus of Wonders, it seems that at last they might have found a place with others like them. For the first time, too, Mattie is able to make friends with a girl her own age – Selena, part of a family of trapeze artists. Soon, though, she discovers a shady side to the way the circus is run, starting with a pair of tigers that she knows are still sad about leaving their jungle.
Mattie is a very sympathetic heroine as she learns to find her courage and plan effectively. Her parents both came to America from other countries – her father from Scotland and her mother from India – a nice touch, with the various cultures in evidence through the story. I also enjoyed the interplay of the very relatable struggles of making friends with the glamour of carnival life and the dastardly villain.