Book Review: “The Multiplying Menace” by Amanda Marrone

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Ever since a freak birthday party incident involving a cake-flinging chimp, Maggie Malloy has tried to avoid saying the words “I wish.” Who knows what would happen if people found out about her magic wishing powers? But then a wish slips out on the last day of fifth grade, and what with a class bully’s hair turning into a swarm of cockroaches, Maggie gets expelled from school. Now, to enable her entomologist parents to visit the bugs of the Amazon, she has to move in with her Gram in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and try to get into an exclusive school for gifted children. Do they have classes for kids with her kind of gift? Maggie doesn’t think so.

Nevertheless, Maggie wishes her way through the entrance exam and starts to play fast and loose with the rules of magic—not that anyone has bothered to explain them to her—in order to get by in the fast-paced environment of Black Rock School. She also discovers that her Grandpa was a partner in a magic repair shop which is still run by the other partner, a nice old fellow named Mr. McGuire. He recognizes her power and begins to teach her the ropes, including the funny and sometimes scary things you can do with glittering powders, mirrors, cauldrons, and wands. But learning magic, even as an after-school activity, is no cakewalk when Maggie has to balance the concerns of a genius best friend, a disapproving grandmother, a sarcastic rabbit, and the annoying “popular girl” in her class who somehow seems immune to mind-altering magic.

Meanwhile, a dark wizard has been hexing people, causing other magicians to disappear, and setting dangerous traps for Maggie and her friend Raphael. With everyone she has come to care about in grave danger, she must race to solve the mysteries swirling around a stage magician called Milo the Magnificent. Lions, snakes, swarms of wasps, magically multiplying bunnies, a black cat turned yellow, and the chilling danger of being trapped “through the looking-glass” are only some of the risks Maggie must run in her maiden adventure as a sixth-grade sorceress.

This book, not to be confused with the “Multiplying Menace/Math Adventure” picture books by Pam Calvert, is the first in a series titled “Magic Repair Shop.” So far two more books have been added to this series: The Shape Shifter’s Curse and The Master of MirrorsMarrone‘s adult fiction includes, at this writing, four supernatural romance novels: UninvitedRevealersDevoured, and Slayed.