The Art of Magic

The Art of Magic
Age Range
Release Date
May 03, 2022
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ZuZu's first summer without her best friend is looking pretty grim, until she meets new kid Andrew at a visit to the historic Mapleton Mansion. Together they stumble upon some enchanted art supplies and discover that the shapes they draw and paint can come to life. Their creations are harmless―but ZuZu and Andrew aren't the only ones with access to magic.

Soon, nightmarish half-machine, half-living creatures begin appearing around town, controlled by a power-hungry "caster" with a sinister mission. It's up to ZuZu and Andrew to use their newfound abilities to protect their community.

Editor review

1 review
The intent is what’s important.
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
Zuzu and Andrew finish third grade, and that summer they discover magical art supplies in an old, haunted house. The drawing tools seem innocent enough until the creatures they draw come to life. The drawings collapse on the floor when trying to leave the paper until the kids learn how to make them more solid. The creatures come in unusual shapes and sizes and add an amusing touch to the events. Clawson is the first beast created by Zuzu, and he behaves like a pet/guardian/character for Zuzu, her brother, and Andrew. Clawson’s a ferocious fighter when protection is needed, but he’s a cute friend to Zuzu’s brother when they’re playing on the floor of his bedroom. Andrew suffers from Crohn’s Disease early in the book, and the author includes information about symptoms and treatment of this fairly common ailment.
The main conflict pits two spirits against each other, brother and sister when they were alive. Chester has a right to be upset since he was bullied as a kid, but he cast a spell while alive that will exact revenge against all of the friends and relatives of his tormentors. The innocent victims weren’t even alive when Chester was bullied. Martha, his sister, teams up with the kids when they display an aptitude for magic, and the plot progresses toward an anticipated showdown. The adventure includes fighting scenes between the visitons and aptitudes created by the main characters.
The magic of fine arts makes an intriguing twist on a common power. Characters with sensitivity to magic are able to use artistic abilities to create living things. Zuzu’s paintings are guided by her thoughts and feelings during their construction, and she discovers that her intentions are key. She also learns that two magic-sensitive characters working together generate a lot more power. This relationship results in an important partnership with Andrew, but it forces Chester to find a living accomplice.
What didn’t work as well:
The author could have come up with more imaginative names for the creations, since visitons and auditions are very neutral, blah terms. Also, it’s hard to envision 9-year-olds displaying the bravery, independence, and ingenuity seen in the story. They’re readily willing to face the uncertainty and dangers, and they mostly move around town freely. They’ve also just finished third grade. Nevertheless, the plot is creative, exciting, and fast-moving as the kids try to thwart Chester’s evil plans.
The Final Verdict:
The intent is what’s important. The whole idea of magical fine arts is original, and the conflict is easy to understand. Chester’s pain from being bullied is even justifiable, although his revenge against ancestors isn’t. Overall, this book is quite entertaining, and I recommend young lovers of magic give it a shot.
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