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Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island

Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island

4.2 5
by Paul Adam

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Max Cassidy can escape from anything

Only fourteen years old, Max is the world's foremost escape artist. Chained, handcuffed, locked in an airtight water tank, there's nothing he can't get himself out of. He learned the art from his father—a man who just two years ago was murdered, and Max's mother went to jail for the crime.

Now a mysterious man


Max Cassidy can escape from anything

Only fourteen years old, Max is the world's foremost escape artist. Chained, handcuffed, locked in an airtight water tank, there's nothing he can't get himself out of. He learned the art from his father—a man who just two years ago was murdered, and Max's mother went to jail for the crime.

Now a mysterious man has shown up backstage after one of Max's shows, telling Max that not only is his mother innocent, but his father is still alive. He can provide only one clue: a slip of paper with eight digits written on it. It is this clue that will lead Max from his home in London to the exotic and deadly Central American country of Santo Domingo and the impenetrable fortress on the sinister Isla de Sombra.

Max Cassidy can escape from anything—but given the chance to finally know the truth about what has torn his family apart, escape from Shadow Island is the last thing on his mind.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Two years ago, Max Cassidy's father, a famous escapologist, vanished while performing in the small Central American country of Santo Domingo. The local authorities arrested and convicted Max's mother. Now living in London with his guardian and stage assistant Consuela, 14-year-old Max makes a living performing feats of escape while trying to be a regular kid. When a mysterious stranger crashes Max's dressing room and intimates that Max's dad is alive, Max can't wait to hear more. Then the stranger turns up murdered, and a shady government official advises Max to let things drop. No matter the danger, Max isn't about to leave his mother in prison and his father who-knows-where. With a reluctant Consuela in tow, he heads off to investigate and finds himself embroiled in Santo Domingo politics and a global conspiracy. British adult thriller author Adam's debut for young audiences is obviously the first of a series. It's a bit slow to start and slips the bonds of reality near the end, but literate thriller readers, especially those interested in escapology, will enjoy and likely ask for the next installment. (Thriller. 8-14)
Publishers Weekly
Thriller writer Adam makes an inauspicious children's book debut, delivering a tale driven by characters making nonsensical choices. Max Cassidy, a 14-year-old schoolboy, is also a famous escape artist. When he was 12, his mother was arrested for the murder of his escape-artist father in the fictional Central American nation of Santo Domingo. A visit from a mysterious stranger convinces Max that his mother was framed, and he travels to the small country to uncover the truth. While there, he witnesses political corruption and discovers the titular island, now serving as a prison. When Consuela—his caretaker and his father's former assistant—vanishes, he knows he has to break into the nigh-impenetrable prison and try to discover the truth about what really happened to his father. Max's discoveries are moved ahead by boneheaded decisions on the parts of the villains—notably kidnapping Consuela for no logical reason. A few well-written escape sequences don't make up for the lack of thought put into the plot. The story ends with a cliffhanger, leaving plenty of questions unanswered. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Action-adventure at it’s best, a la Alex Rider, James Bond, and Dirk Pitt....Tons of fun.”
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
I absolutely loved this book! Max Cassidy is a fourteen-year-old boy whose mother is in jail and whose father is dead. Max learned some of his father's escape artist secrets before the man's death, and it was no surprise that Max has taken up the same career. It comes as a shock to Max when, after he finishes a show, a stranger approaches him backstage to tell him that his mother did not commit crime she is imprisoned for. His shock is magnified when the stranger also reveals Max's father is still alive. The story takes the reader on an exciting adventure filled with danger and many dead ends. Armed with only one clue, a piece of paper with numbers written on it, Max goes to the last place his father was seen; there, he finds much corruption. His journey continues on to an island where an "empty" prison still being guarded. Will Max be able to unravel the mystery surrounding his parents? The author draws in the reader from the first page. The story is believable and exciting; it is perfect for both boys and girls. The fast-paced story is a real page-turner. Those who enjoy both adventure and mystery must own this book. I'm sure readers of this book will be eager for the next in the series! Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
VOYA - Rebecca Moore
Fourteen-year-old Max Cassidy has performed his escapologist act on his own for two years, ever since his father, another world-famous escapologist, vanished under suspicious circumstances in the Central American dictatorship of Santo Domingo. Max's mother was incarcerated for the crime, but he knows she did not do it. When a mysterious man shows up claiming that Max's father is still alive and then is murdered before he can say more, Max knows he must go to the corrupt Santo Domingo to find out what really happened. What he finds is the dangerous and impregnable Isla de Sombre—Island of Shadows—a former pirate fortress and prison now owned by a wealthy man performing questionable scientific experiments. Only an escapologist could get into the Island of Shadows, but will Max's considerable abilities be enough to get him out? This novel is formulaic action-adventure at its best, a la Alex Rider, James Bond, and Dirk Pitt. Adam includes all the requisite tropes—mysterious messages, corrupt obscure countries, menacing thugs, beautiful women, secret codes, impregnable fortresses, explosions, stolen boats, prison escapes—and it adds up to tons of fun. Adding a mild twist are Max's escapologist tricks; boys especially will love the detailed descriptions of him regurgitating keys and lockpick wires. There is little time between action sequences to develop character, but most readers will be too busy turning pages to care. With a cliffhanger ending, look for much more of this series and be sure to hand it to your reluctant readers. Reviewer: Rebecca Moore
VOYA - Alisa Billig
If someone is looking for a simple, easy read, Escape from Shadow Island is perfect. Give it to readers who get captivated easily, want a quick action story, and feel the need to be spared intricacies. Personally, I found the book bland. It had the action, but did not captivate, mostly because the main hero does not evolve—he is already "perfect." Reviewer: Alisa Billig, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Tapan Srivastava
Max Cassidy seems like a typical action-adventure hero, but there is more to him than meets the eye. Merely because he fights, performs insane stunts, and escapes from impossible situations, it does not mean that he cannot have a sense of humor, too. Adam weaves funny parts together with interesting side plot lines into one exciting quest. With its great hero and gripping plot, action fans will love Shadow Island. Reviewer: Tapan Srivastava, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—Onstage, Max, a 14-year-old London-based escape artist, is an up-and-coming wunderkind pushing the envelope of his inherited art form. Offstage, he is barely holding on. His father, the legendary escapologist Alexander Cassidy, has been missing and presumed dead since mysteriously disappearing in Santo Domingo two years earlier. Max's mother was hastily convicted of murdering her husband by a corrupt court and is now imprisoned, her health quickly deteriorating. Max has always believed in his mother's innocence, but it's not until he is visited by a mysterious stranger that he finally believes he has a chance of unraveling the truth. Lopez-Vega tells him that his father is still alive and that his mother was framed, and he invites Max to meet him the next day because he has something for him. Unfortunately, when Max arrives for the appointment, he finds Lopez-Vega slain in his room. Convinced that the cryptic message on the underside of the man's toupee is somehow key to discovering his father's whereabouts and clearing his mother's name, Max convinces Consuela, his guardian, to accompany him back to the scene of his father's disappearance. Readers who enjoy this solid mystery/adventure—one made more interesting by its insider insights into escapology—will have to wait to have this mystery fully uncovered, but Adam does a good job of whetting appetites for a sequel.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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File size:
309 KB
Age Range:
8 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Paul Adam is a writer of adult thrillers. This is his first book for children. He lives in Sheffield, England, with his wife and two sons.

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Escape from Shadow Island (Max Cassidy Series) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kerr More than 1 year ago
This was a awesome book it's about a kid who has to prove his mom didn't kill his father. He then goes to Santa domigo and he has to find out what the hell is happening anD why the police took away his guardian, consuela