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Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch

Sometimes, between siblings or close friends, words take on meanings that can’t easily be explained to other people. They become like inside jokes – inside words, as it were. After the elevator episode, bad word became Clay and his brother’s inside word for magic word. Also for code word and for password and for any other word that had some unique power of significance. For any word that did something.

For as long as he can remember, Clay has had a mysterious restless energy that keeps him in constant motion. It isn’t just his knees. He twiddles his thumbs…taps his toes…

The exception is when he's skateboarding. With wheels under his feet, Clay’s body relaxes and his mind is able to focus. Unfortunately, skateboards aren’t allowed in the classroom.

Clay grew up with magic. When he was younger, his older brother would perform all sorts of tricks. Clay figured them out eventually and came to the conclusion that magicians just said a bunch of stuff to make you think they’re doing something they are not. He figured that the whole idea of magic was fake…all cheese-wizardry.

Then, magic actually comes to the forefront of his life.

It all begins when Clay’s teacher, Mr. Bailey, hands him Prospero’s magic book, from The Tempest. He tells Clay that all he as to do to get class credit is write something – anything – in the journal.

Out of frustration, Clay writes “MAGIC SUCKS!” in the journal. The last thing Clay expects is that the whole school would see his journal entry blown up on a wall. He feels exposed, as if it were a confessional journal entry, not just two words copied onto a wall.

The consequences result in Clay shipped off to a summer camp for struggling youth. Earth Ranch is supposed to be a self-sustaining ranch and farm; participants grow their own food, produce their own energy, and recycle their own waste. It’s considered to be a model for living responsibly in the twenty-first century. The life the way nature intended. But Clay isn’t too thrilled about going to this Alcatraz…on a volcano…with Ilamas.

When he first gets to the island, it seems that he just doesn’t fit in. Everything is weird, from a Spanish-speaking Ilama to a bee-speaking counselor. But, something tells Clay that he has a role to play here, and he is determined to find out what it is.

Can the ghost girl actually be a ghost? And why would someone fake a journal to make it resemble Clay’s life?

Bad Magic is a puzzle waiting to be solved. Why does everything keep coming back to The Tempest? Is it the answer to some cosmic riddle? The book is smart, and a rewarding read that will keep you on your toes. It’s nice to see a magical twist on an adventurous book for young readers.

5 out of 5 Sukasa Stars

Bad Magic is published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Review by
@ShilpaRaikar for @SukasaReads (a division of @SukasaStyle)