Mangus is an old illusionist who does a good job convincing people that he is a real magician. He does his job too well, in a small Italian kingdom where superstition and paranoia run high. Denounced as a sorcerer, he barely manages to avoid execution, living under house arrest with his wife and a boy servant, Fabrizio.
One night Mangus and Fabrizio are summoned before the royal family, where Mangus is ordered to free the Princess Teresina from being haunted by a ghost. The problem is, the King really believes Mangus has the power to do it. And though doing real magic could get him killed, Mangus doesn't really believe in magic, or ghosts either. Yet his life depends on solving the mystery.
Mangus is a brilliant man of reason, no doubt, but the real hero of the story is his clever, street-wise, and terribly loyal servant Fabrizio. Up and down the secret passages of the castle, Fabrizio finds himself tangled in more and more lines of intrigue. The princess wants to avoid a bad marriage to the treacherous Count Scarazoni. The Count seems to be plotting to take over the throne. Another member of his conspiracy turns up dead after trying to talk to Mangus. The princess claims that the ghost is that of her missing brother, trying to get revenge for a wrongful death, but some people deny that he is even dead. And other people seem to be pursuing their own private agendas, including a queen and a kitchen boy.
Is there really a ghost? Has the prince really been murdered? Will the truth serve the interests of the kingdom? These questions take second place in Fabrizio's mind, as the life and freedom of his master-- and his own as well-- hang in the delicate balance.
It is a clever mystery, full of historical color, ghostly apparitions, witty hocus-pocus, and palace intrigue. And the final solution brings out both the luck and the pluck of our adorable young hero. Well worth a look!
Recommended Age: 10+
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