I was lucky enough to receive a free ecopy of The Magic Trick thanks to the author, Levi Stack. This is just an honest review and I hope that my thoughts on the matter do not offend anyone! I'll try to keep this review as free from spoilers as possible.
To explain a little bit about the series so far... Intertwined in Russian history, The Card Game series tells the story of two boys. Viktor and Romulus live in Aryk, a town where cards are outlawed. In the last book, they dug deep into the past of the area and did what they thought was best to help their fellow citizens. In The Magic Trick, a sequel, they're still dealing with the problems that have arisen in Aryk. The boys, along with their friends, have to deal with new problems. Viktor has been called into an apprenticeship program that is being held at the castle. Though fearful, he choices to act as a spy for their cause and it is not easy... Have a read and find out for yourself!
I think that the writing of the characters was incredible. I really enjoyed looking into the pasts of all sorts of people and finding out their motives for their actions. I thought it particularly interesting to see the past of the gypsy children and how they were brought up. I also enjoyed finding how the lives between each of the characters unfold, even how some characters have more of an influence in the lives of others. Though, after two books in the series, it still feels like Romulus is somewhat of an enigma. It seems that he deliberately keeps secrets, and he doesn't always seem to give the full story. Even Viktor is often suspicious or even upset that Romulus might not be telling the full story. I do kind of find my patience for Romulus running out; he's a good friend and obviously very brave, but there's just something about the way he goes about in the story makes him seem cocky and overconfident. He also kind of seems very arrogant because of the work his father had already done for the town, as if he expects people to respect him just based on that. I guess it's kind of difficult to explain my feelings on that matter. I felt particularly happy with Viktor's parts in the plot. He's obviously a very intelligent boy and, despite making some stupid decisions in certain points, I felt like he made a lot of practical actions in the attempt to help people. I don't think I'll go on about all of the characters, but there is just one I'd like to talk about. For a while, in the start of the book, I was concerned about Fredek's part to play. I don't generally like bully types in books and I often feel that they're not explained to the fullest extent. I sort of felt the same way while reading this. However, I was glad that his actions were later explain. I was quite pleased with the way his plotline turned out. Well, not pleased, but I felt like the author explained his part in the plot very well. In the last book, I felt that his actions were explained well as they fit the motives he had at the time. In this second novel, with all of his antics, I was worried that his actions were escalating with little reason. However, I'm pleased to say that I'm wrong. My main problem, like as with the last book, is that there is just too many characters. There are times when I felt like I was missing out on certain bits and misunderstanding because I didn't quite remember which characters were which.
I really quite enjoyed the plot of this book. There were quite a lot of bits and pieces throughout the novel to pay attention to, but I like the way that it all came together in the end. It kind of felt longwinded in some places because there were so many aspects, but I think that it worked well for the novel. I don't really know how to explain that, but the reason I think it works well is because it's not as easy as it could be. In many other books I've read, authors have led their characters down the easiest path to get to the solution. However, in The Magic Trick, the twists and turns are what makes it interesting. Stack keeps us guessing at pretty much every turn. The thing is that, because the characters only have a certain amount of information at each time, it also makes it interesting because we get to see the thought processes going through their minds and the solutions they come up with. I was intrigued with the lessons that the students went through. I felt it quite interesting to see the learning process of the students. I actually felt kind of disappointed that we didn't get to see much into the lessons in general, but I can see why the author did such a thing; because it wasn't entirely relevant to the plot at hand. I guess it might have taken it a little too far away from the real plot. I'm pretty interested in seeing how the next book plays out. At the end of The Magic Trick, it leads into some new, interesting points and plot lines for the next novel. Despite many of the mysteries being solved, we're being led into some new curious areas.
I think that the author has set up the plot of this book well, clearly thinking the entire thing through and how each of the characters' actions might play out. I think it's definitely a five star book.