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Review of The Spell Book of Listen Taylor

Moriarty_spell_book207x300Jaclyn Moriarty The Spell Book of Listen Taylor
479 pp. Levine/Scholastic 9/07 isbn 978-0-439-84678-3 $16.99 g
(High School)

Moriarty (The Year of Secret Assignments, rev. 3/04; The Life Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, rev. 1/07) returns with another madly convoluted, over-the-top comedy-drama-mystery told from multiple points of view. Twelve-year-old Listen Taylor is too ashamed to tell her father and his new girlfriend, Marbie, that her friends have dropped her; her other secret is that she’s found a book of spells. Marbie Zing loves and adores Listen’s father, but finds herself inexplicably having an affair. Marbie’s sister Fancy is certain her husband, whom she despises, is having an affair. Fancy’s daughter’s teacher, Cath Murphy, begins an affair with is the one surrounding the Zing Family Secret Meetings, held every Friday night in Grandpa and Grandma Zing’s garden shed. While trying to figure out what the Zings are up to, readers will also be keeping close track of Listen’s spells and their repercussions. The novel demands careful reading (and even flipping back and re-reading) but amply rewards it. Moriarty’s book (a revised version of an adult novel) is like Listen’s spell book: each requires a leap of faith, but each also possesses an intriguing mystery and an authoritative, immensely witty voice; and in both, the end result is magically uplifting.

From the September/October 2007 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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