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Tricksters [Paperback]

Margaret Mahy
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 2 1996 Puffin Teenage Fiction
The Hamiltons gather at their holiday house for their customary celebration of midsummer Christmas in New Zealand. But with the unexpected arrival of three sinister brothers, the Tricksters, reality and the supernatural become inextricably interwoven.

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From Publishers Weekly

With the appearance of this haunting, intriguing novel, Mahy (twice a winner of the Carnegie Medal) has written perhaps her best work yet. It begins as a family Christmas story, with Jack and Naomi Hamilton, their five children and assorted guests arriving at their summer home, Carnival's Hide, on the beach in New Zealandfor Christmas is also midsummer. Although Jack and Naomi still love each other, their marriage has been shaken by a past, unmentioned crisis, duly noted by daughter Harry, who at 17 is the family observer. Harry is obsessed with her creation of a torrid, romantic novel. When her obsession collides with the family fascination with the ghost of Teddy Carnival (the young son of the house's first owner, who drowned in an apparent suicide), the supernatural explodes into reality, as three brothersthe Tricksterstake human form. Harry recognizes her own book characters in the brothers, and is determined to keep them from destroying her family. Ultimately, the supernatural and reality merge in one dreadful moment, and it is Harryin her transformation into her real self, Ariadnewho shatters all of the family's illusions. Mahy has combined stunning visuals with intelligent, very accessible characters. The supernatural presence of the Tricksters becomes a maze through which Harry, her family and, finally, the reader, must travel in order to unravel the novel's mysteries. A searing depiction of an entire family's rite of passage, The Tricksters is one of the most intellectually challenging novels written for teenagers in years.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up A Christmas story that takes place on the beach in a sunny New Zealand December. Mahy's fans will not be surprised to learn that it is also a love story in which one of the lovers is a ghost. To most of the Hamilton family, the three young men who drop in on their holiday seem to be ordinary, although eccentric, visitors. To 17-year-old Ariadne (always called Harry), they are much more than that, perhaps ghosts, or even characters come alive from a story she is writing. Mahy has caught the essence of the adolescent's painful separateness; cut off from her childhood, Harry stands alone in her family. Whatever they are, the Tricksters act as a catalyst, drawing Harry out of childhood and causing her to raise the family's tensions and reveal their secrets. A theme touched on in The Changeover: a Supernatural Romance (Atheneum, 1984) reappears here, that of a young girl coming to terms not only with her own sexuality, but with her parents' sexuality as well. The intricate threads of personalities and plot weave together into a fine web of vivid language. Few writers have Mahy's skill at integrating the supernatural with daily life. She manages to enrich each in the process, just as the revelation precipitated by the visitors, painful as it is, ends by enriching the Hamiltons' lives and changing the three spirits as well. Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery, magic, and romance July 1 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you're looking for a story that's a little out of the ordinary, pick up "The Tricksters" by Margaret Mahy. "The Tricksters" is romance, supernatural phenomena, mystery and family drama all rolled into one book full of rich detail and fully realized characters. Mahy's writing is superb. There is nothing basic about the basic plot of "The Tricksters" buy I'll try to sum it up as briefly as possible: Harry (really Ariadne) is on Christmas vacation at the beach (New Zealand - the seasons are swapped) with her family. The five Hamilton children and their parents have been returning to "Carnivals Hide," their vacation home for several years. The place is a family tradition for them and holds the romance and intrigue of the mysterious past of it's original owners, the Carnivals. The children often retell the story and play pretend games involving young Teddy Carnival, a former resident of the home, who tragically drowned, leaving his poor grieving father to sink further into the seclusion of Carnival's Hide.
This Christmas, Harry and her family are surprised by three unexpected visitors. Ovid and his twin brothers Hadfield and Felix appear on the beach one day. They perform magic tricks and speak in eloquent riddles and tell of a connection to the Carnival family. To Harry, they appear to have been born straight out of her own imagination - the romance novel she is secretly writing - and she suspects they are not the jovial, romantic brothers they portray but a mystery of a more sinister nature. Who and what are the three tricksters and what is there true business at Carnival's Hide and with the Hamilton family? Magically, the answers are teased out in riddles and hints until finally they culminate in the revelations of a family secret.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This Book Not For Me Jan. 8 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
My review of this book was that it was a very long and drawn out boring book. I feel sorry for those people who actually like to read boring books like this. I can kind of tell if a book is boring if in the first twenty and a half chapters are so boring that I would rather do my chores instead of reading this stupid book. I can't help it , but man the only interesting part in the whole book is the last three chapters, but even at the end of the twenty third chapter it was so boring that I could hardly stay awake to read the end of this stupid book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Mixture of Reality and Fantasy Feb. 2 2004
Format:Hardcover
The Tricksters is an intriguing and challenging novel. It is good for ages 11- adult. You will love this book if you like compelling, thrilling and suspenseful novels.
The book begins at the family's vacation home, Carnival's Hide, where many years ago the tragic death of Teddy Carnival had taken place. Harry, 17, feels out of place in her family. She is not beautiful, like Christobel, her sister. She isn't the youngest, like Benny and Serena, nor the oldest, like Charlie. Harry, is tired of being known as docile and simple.
In her attic bedroom, she writes a romantic novel of a hero named Belen. Early one morning, while out jogging, she finds three brothers, the Tricksters, in their human form. The three brothers hold a threat to the family, but the only one who realizes this fact is Harry.
The Tricksters are the three parts of Teddy Carnival. Harry finds herself in love with the "best part". The other two parts of Teddy Carnival are the real threats.
The two parts have the power of all three. When the third part's strong emotions for Harry overcome the other's powers, reality and the supernatural come together in one horrible moment.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful Urban Fantasy May 9 2003
Format:Library Binding
Every Christmas, the Hamilton family spends the holiday season at Carnival's Hide, a house built ninety years earlier by but never lived in by Edward Carnival, a prominant forester and gardener, on the shores of New Zealand. Every Christmas, they recount how Edward's son, Teddy, was lost and presumed dead in a diving accident. This Christmas, however, will be different.
Not only do they welcome Anthony, a visitor from England, in taking part in their celebrations, but their second oldest daughter, Harry (short for Ariadne), encounters three strangers on the beach on night. At once intimidating and attractive, the three brothers claim to be descendants of Edward Carnival. Their true origins, however, seep into the world of the unreal and will affect the members of the Hamilton family in many ways, from romance to unrest to family secrets. Are they who they claim to be or, as she believes, manifestations from Harry's private novel? Her own infatuation with one of the brothers could put her family at risk before she discovers the truth.
Margaret Mahy weaves a skillful tale full of intriguing characters and atmosphere in an urban fantasy which is fast paced and suspenseful. Her use of language is clear yet often poetic as she infuses the fantastic with the real as she juggles this family of unique characters and their guests, both welcome and unwelcome.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books May 14 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The first Margaret Mahy book I read was The Haunting. I must have been about eight years old. That book has since earned a permanent place on my bookshelf, so when I spotted The Tricksters on the "New Books" shelf at the Phoenix Public Library 20 years later, I didn't hesitate to pick it up.
This is a rich, complex, multilayered book. I particularly love it for summer reading because, although the story takes place during Christmas, it is also set in New Zealand, so Christmas falls during the height of summer. A large family and their assorted friends and guests make their annual holiday retreat to a remote seaside house with a history of its own. This summer, however, will alter everything, as Harry -- teenage girl, oft-neglected middle child, and keeper of various secrets -- sets into motion a chain of events which forces her entire family to confront not only the house and their dark fascination with its past, but themselves as well.
For me, this is primarily a ghost story full of psychological twists, tricks and turns (not to mention real menace at times) but it is equally a story about family and the way the past can hang over the present, particularly in the sets of siblings involved: why is it that some members of a family seem destined to blaze forever, no matter what their fate, while their brothers or sisters inevitably sink unnoticed into the background? And how do you measure the damage when one girl feels her family's preoccupation with a man presumed drowned and gone for a century outweighs its interest in her? I also find irresistible any story that presents a house as practically a breathing entity, as restless and yearning to resolve and put to rest what happened inside its walls as the people.
I admit Mahy's style isn't for everyone.
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