________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 13 . . . . February 22, 2008


Trick of the Light.

Marina Cohen.
St. Catharines, ON: Vanwell, 2007.
222 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55068-982-2.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen.

*** ½ /4


Billie pushed past Sherman and took one step outside the room. As her foot grazed the soil, they heard a great sucking noise. The walls of Sherman's bedroom began to shrink.

"It's imploding!" yelled Billie.

"Quick!" shouted Sherman. "Grab what you can!"

Sherman snatched a handful of tubes and shoved them into the pocket of his jeans. He lunged for the book, grappling it and his violin case. The walls caved in on him but he managed to put on his slippers then leap for the door.

Billie scooped up Stella's pendant and a few more glow sticks. She raced for the doorway. It had shrunk to less than three feet tall. She dove out into the strange woods.

Sherman looked back as his bedroom squeezed itself into a tiny ball. It kept on shrinking until it disappeared into itself, leaving nothing behind but a clearing around the ghostly white trees.


Twelve-year old Drake Livingstone has a twin sister, Stella. At least, he says he has a twin sister, who disappeared in January in the light of a solar eclipse. No one believes him, not even his friend Sherman Glutz. Sherman is much more concerned about his violin lessons, his new school, and dealing with Billie Binkleburg who seems to be a bully. When Drake disappears, Sherman receives a mysterious package from him, one which contains a necklace and a diary filled with circles. Sherman and Billie must decipher the mystery of the diary, then go to the world of Halfstone to help Drake defeat Umbra the Shadowmaster and save both Aura, Keeper of the Light and Stella.

     Trick of the Light, the sequel to Shadow of the Moon, begins several months after the events in Shadow of the Moon. The story opens by reminding the reader of the main characters from the previous book and introducing Billie. It is not necessary to have read Shadow of the Moon to enjoy Trick of the Light as the events are explained well enough at the beginning.

     The characters are incredibly well done once again. The main focus of the story is on Sherman and Billie. Sherman is a loner at a new school and is getting a lot of attention from Billie. She may be a bully, or she may like him, and Sherman can't decide which is worse. Billie appears to have 12 brothers who all do incredible things, a situation which gives her a lot of knowledge in different areas. After Sherman finds out that Billie is Gifted but also has a learning disability, he wonders if her brothers even exist or if she is really incredibly smart. Billie and Sherman really complement each other throughout the story. They are quite realistic characters who also act their age. They are brave, but they are still 12-years-old.

     Marina Cohen's writing is excellent. The story flows through the vivid settings and brings in characters that are described minimally but with great thoroughness. Long descriptions are not necessary because Cohen can make smaller ones much more effective. The reader is easily able to picture the settings, characters and events in their mind. The characters encountered in Halfworld are not always standard fantasy characters and are not the same as those in Shadow of the Moon. In addition, Marina Cohen is not afraid to use language. Many authors would refer to a spider's jaws, not their chelicerae. Language like this shows the strength of Cohen's writing.

     Trick of the Light is an excellent and captivating sequel to Shadow of the Moon and will be enjoyed by anyone who likes fantasy.

Highly Recommended.

Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at UBC, Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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