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on July 1, 2002
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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on January 8, 2002
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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on September 4, 2000
An extraordinary and evocative work of contemporary fantasy that clearly establishes Mahy (when writing for the more mature reader) in the same league as Susan Cooper, William Mayne, Alan Garner, and Peter Dickinson, The Tricksters adds nuanced layer upon layer in its depiction of a girl's sexual and emotional coming of age. I read this book when it first came out, and have returned to it more than once. It is certainly a book that rewards reading at all ages (I'm in my forties now)and I have recommended it successfuly to teenagers, college students, and other adults. It lead me to read Mahy's many other books including Seventeen Kings, Forty-Two Elephants; An Alien in the Family; Memory; The Horribly Haunted School; and The Changeover. These range from picture books to novels, but none fail to deliver a startling, often electric, shock of reappraisal of our individual relationship with the world. In The Tricksters, for example, the three ambiguously identified young men of the title are as palpable or as elusive as the protagonist's own thoughts and feelings are about the role she will play in life, and in her family. The unsettling mixture stirs her longing for innocent childhood with a growing (and appalling) understanding that nothing will be the same again as she grows. Really, a quite remarkable novel... I would most closely compare it with a long overlooked book, Thunder On the Left by Christopher Morley, best known as the author of The Haunted Bookshop. Like Thunder, I foresee that Tricksters will still have devoted readers fifty and seventy-five years from now.
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on May 9, 2003
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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on May 14, 2002
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. I find it evocative, foreboding and frankly addictive, and her descriptions of the natural landscape -- often captured in only a few words -- put you right there; still it may be unsatisfying and frustrating to have the stories of the two families -- Harry's family and the Carnivals, the builders and earlier occupants of their house -- so entwined that only by peeling back layer after layer throughout the book is the crux of their respective secrets revealed. This isn't a classic ghost story, and it isn't a classic teen-coming-of-age book. But I think it deserves to find a wide, varied audience.
(And adults, don't be snootily put off by the "Teen" or "Young Adult" recommended age group. This is as skillfully-written and demanding as anything written for adults out there.)
Incidentally, if you like The Tricksters, may I recommend another novel with many similar themes: Grange House by Sarah Blake. This too has an ominous air of the supernatural; the resentment engendered by one sibling constantly being the center of attention; the past exerting an unbreakable hold on the present; the significance of writing and stories to a main character; and not least of all, beautiful, haunting descriptions of the natural landscape and a grand house as much a character as any of the people in the book.
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on February 2, 2004
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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on November 17, 2000
I checked this book out of my public library based on its cover,which is usually not the best way to find great literature. Yet in this book, I found a character that was so much like me, that I thought that my Felix was around the corner. This absolutely stunning piece tells the story of Ariadne(Harry) Hamilton,the most real person of a family that craves uniqueness. She sits in her attic room writing a romantic story and thinking ghostly thoughts.Then one day while walking on the beach, she meets the three men that will change her family forever. These men captivate the family, captivate Ariadne, and captivate the reader as well. As Harry lets one of the men,Felix, come closer to her, the other two find their way into the hearts of the rest. When the final climax comes, the reader is stunned and moved. The last few pages alone are worth the money.
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on November 25, 2000
On the surface The Tricksters is a great young adult novel. For the training literary reader who can dig deeper than the simple plot will allow, this book provides so much more than a fun read. It is a book that will haunt you long after you put it down. Drawn in by Harry Hamilton's enthusiasm for writing, I was drawn to her character because she was so much like me. The mysterious air of the ghostly Carnival brothers adds just the right touch of romantic flare that I need. And the brooding, family secret that lurks just below the surface keep me reading until the early hours of the morning. A page turner, if there ever was one!
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on October 19, 1999
I read an older copy hiden in the back of my school libary about 2 years ago and read it in about 5 hours. it was great but short. Margaret Mahy is a great athur and you should read all her books.
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