Escape from Shadow Island by Paul Adam

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Escape from Shadow Island by Paul Adam

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Super thriller for early teens featuring a junior escapologist looking for his missing father. It's exciting, pacy and accessible, and they'll lap it up.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Corgi
ISBN: 0552560324

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Max Cassidy is only fourteen, but he can escape from handcuffs and straightjackets and pick any lock you care to incarcerate him behind. He can hold his breath for two full lengths of an Olympic size swimming pool. Don't trust him with a key, because he'll simply swallow it for future regurgitation. Max, like his father before him, is an escapologist. He's making quite a nice living from his stage show, which is just as well, because his father is missing, presumed dead, and his mother is serving eighteen years for his murder.

Max doesn't believe in his mother's guilt though, and when a stranger appears backstage after a show one night, telling him that his father is still alive, he determines to find out for himself exactly what happened, and to win his mother's freedom. He has only one clue to go on - a sequence of eight numbers, found hidden on the body of the murdered stranger.

I liked Escape from Shadow Island. It's an action thriller aimed squarely at the early teens, and it ticks all the boxes. It's pacy and exciting and very accessible. The opening scene, in which one of Max's escapology stunts almost goes badly wrong, engages the reader right from the start. Max is a winning character - courageous and over-confident at times, vulnerable and lonely at others. He may have bigger adventures than most of his future fans, but he's living in an emotional landscape they can step straight into. There are as many chases and narrow escapes as you could shake a stick at, and the escapology motif means that Max can get out of them without suspending disbelief too much.

And hooray! The book ends on a satisfactory cliffhanger. It's my constant moan that too many children's books end with not enough loose ends tied up to be fair to the age group concerned. This one has enough to create interest in what happens next, but closes the current episode with sufficient reward and satisfaction. I know it's a tricky balance, but it's missed so often, I feel obliged to cheer when it isn't.

Fans of high-octane adventure aged about ten to fourteen are going to enjoy reading about Max Cassidy.

My thanks to the nice people at Corgi for sending the book.

They might also enjoy Danger Zone: The Devil's Breath by David Gilman, which has another Max chasing another disappeared father, but this time with an environmental theme. Those interest in escapology could learn a few tricks from Hocus Pocus by Paul Kieve, which talks about Harry Houdini.

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Buy Escape from Shadow Island by Paul Adam at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Escape from Shadow Island by Paul Adam at


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