When you ask me about my favourite books, The Tricksters
will always feature on the list, be it about New Zealand books, or books in general. It's been, oh, more than ten years since I first read The Tricksters
and in my mind one of the marks of a good book is whether or not it stays with you and stands the test of time.The Tricksters
most certainly fits that description.
Margaret Mahy is one of New Zealand's most famous authors, and The Tricksters shows why she is so amazing and worth the praise and status she has received (and in my opinion, she deserves more): the language is beautiful and evocative without becoming purple - unless you count the purple prose in the torrid romance novel the main character Harry (whose real name is "Ariadne") is writing at the start of the novel, of course - and, of course, the characters are real and vibrant and practically leap off the page. The relationships between characters are wonderful to watch, especially that between Harry and the third Carnival brother, Felix - it is full of the mystery, excitement and chaos of first love.
While fantasy creeps in around the edges, this is a book about reality if anything else. It is about secrets, yours and other peoples, between family and between friends. It is about growing up and growing into yourself, becoming aware of your own sexuality and becoming okay with it - not to mention first love. It is about family and friends, and what can cause people to grow closer as well as tear them apart.
When I was a young girl this book spoke to me, especially the transformation of Harry - a character I could identify with, and I think a lot of girls will - from start to finish. The sprinklings of myth and fantasy throughout the book add another layer to the whole story, and paves the way for an ending you won't see coming.