Young Joey Kopecky is off for an unexpected adventure after receiving perfect scores on traditional standardized tests given by his public school. Joey is chosen to attend a prestigious New York City private school, just as soon as he takes yet another test to determine a job recommendation for his future. But the testing center and administrator aren’t quite what he imagined. Instead of taking a traditional paper-and-pencil exam, Joey is handed a series of magic tricks to attempt. When he manages this in record time, he’s transported to a parallel realm where he learns that not only is magic real, it’s in danger of being controlled by a group of evil magicians who want it all to themselves. Together with the washed-up Redondo the Magnificent, Joey and two other young accomplices fight to keep magic free to all those willing to watch it or wield it.
Order of the Majestic, by Matt Myklusch, starts out at a fast pace. Joey explains early on that standardized tests are merely based on formulas, and he can see through those tricks. Look, anyone who’s going to start their book off poking fun at the absurdity that is standardized testing is never going to get on my bad side. Joey is transported to a parallel realm by the end of the first chapter, and from there, events unfold quickly for the first half of the story. Joey himself is curious and full of pop culture references, an easily relatable character you find yourself rooting for right away. His pairing with the washed-up, cranky magician Redondo the Magnificent elicited giggles and grins from me throughout. I found myself driven to keep reading to find out if Redondo’s heart would soften toward Joey and if he would teach him the tricks of the trade to help him save magic.
About halfway through the book, though, new characters were abruptly introduced, other young potential magicians who served to roll their eyes at Joey and scoff at how little magical training he had received throughout his young life. These two never felt as fully developed as Joey himself, and their use as foils for our main character followed a predictable pattern of young adult literature. What I assume was meant to be the big twist toward the end was also predictable, as I figured it out about a third of the way through the book. Ah, the curse of being an avid adult reader reading a book intended for twelve-year-olds.
Not that any of this makes Order of the Majestic a bad book. I remained curious about where it was going throughout and was satisfied with the end of the story. There’s a clear set-up for sequels here, which I would definitely be up for reading. While this isn’t the most mind-blowing book I’ve ever read, it was definitely an enjoyable romp, and with summer approaching, you may just want to pack this one in your beach bag for some mindless fun.
Order your copy of Order of the Majestic here.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for review.