Murder at Midnight

Murder at Midnight

3.9 25
by Avi

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The tantalizing prequel to Avi's bestselling MIDNIGHT MAGIC is now in paperback!

A plot to overthrow King Claudio is brewing in the Kingdom of Pergamontio.
Scholarly Mangus the magician-along with his street--smart and faithful new servant boy, Fabrizio--have been marked as easy scapegoats for the traitor lurking within the king's court. Together, these two


The tantalizing prequel to Avi's bestselling MIDNIGHT MAGIC is now in paperback!

A plot to overthrow King Claudio is brewing in the Kingdom of Pergamontio.
Scholarly Mangus the magician-along with his street--smart and faithful new servant boy, Fabrizio--have been marked as easy scapegoats for the traitor lurking within the king's court. Together, these two unlikely partners must gather clues to solve the mystery and prove their innocence before the stroke of midnight...or face death!

Intricate plotting, surprise twists, and lively prose make for another suspenseful page-turner that stands alone or sets the stage for MIDNIGHT MAGIC!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


"Readers will be glued to this suspenseful, headlong caper from first page to last."–Kirkus Reviews

"The suspense simmer[s] right through to the end."–Booklist


*"With snappy dialogue, nonstop action and lavishly embroidered period backdrops, this will please Avi's fans and may well win over some new ones."–Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The pages fly with intrigue and action."–Horn Book

The king is in danger. Well-placed traitors in the royal court have vowed to overthrow good King Claudio, and their plan is close to fruition. Danger looms for the monarch and his kingdom, but also for Mangus, the scholarly magician, and his devoted servant boy Fabrizio, who the plotters have been marked as scapegoats. This unlikely pair know that they must prove their innocence before the stroke of midnight or face execution. And they know the clock is ticking.
Publishers Weekly
Readers are returned to the Renaissance city of Pergamontio in this funny, lightweight mystery, set before the events of Avi's Midnight Magic, with 10-year-old Fabrizio having just begun serving Mangus the Magician. When hundreds of neatly printed handbills proclaiming “The kingdom needs a strong ruler! Establish true authority! Do not fear a change!” mysteriously appear, the superstitious King Claudio and his pompous “Primo Magistrato” DeLaBina believe it's the devil's work (Claudio and DeLaBina have “been successful in keeping Pergamontio free of all modern ideas, technologies, and heresies”). Mangus is accused of creating the fliers with black magic, and is placed under arrest and threatened with death. But when DeLaBina is murdered, it's up to the Sancho Panza–like Fabrizio and his new friend, the printer's devil Maria, to discover which of Pergamontio's scheming nobles is responsible for all of the skullduggery. Combining action, silliness and enough step-by-step explanations to help readers figure out the mystery, this enjoyable historical tale should appeal to the author's many younger fans and send them off to read—or reread—Midnight Magic. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Avi, that prolific and skilled writer, can put another notch to his laptop: this is his seventieth book! As always the author has done his homework, crafting believable, sympathetic characters in 1490 Italy. Fabrizio, formerly a homeless street orphan, is now a personal servant to Magnus the Magician and his compassionate wife, Mistress Sophia. Magnus is also kind, teaching Fabrizio to read and educating him in philosophy, but Fabrizio wants more. He wants to learn magic and thinks of it as real, not illusion. But these are terrible times for magicians; magic has been banned by the superstitious king Claudio. The times are even harder on the hapless Fabrizio. After a typical performance in the backroom of the Sign of the Crown Tavern, the servant and his master are swept along by a plot to assassinate the king. Who is behind the plot—Cosimo, heir to the throne, or Count Scarazoni, said to be the real power in the kingdom? Flyers encouraging the overthrow of King Claudio appear in the streets. Each is so exactly alike; authorities suspect magic and arrest Magnus the Magician. The real "magic" is the recent invention of the printing press. Fabrizio and Maria, whose family owns the press, take on the challenge of saving their respective families as well as the kingdom. Along the way they encounter life-threatening danger, ready-to-betray servants, crooked palace officials and as many plot twists as Fabrizio's town of Pergamontio's streets and alleyways. Avi is adept at creating characters that depend upon their own strengths to save the day. The well-intentioned Fabrizio is someone young readers will remember long after they finish this book. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—In the Renaissance kingdom of Pergamontio, Italy, young servant Fabrizio's master, a stage magician, is charged with plotting treason against the king and dealing with demons. Fabrizio knows he must help clear Mangus's name to avoid once again living on the streets and to convince the magician to take him on as an apprentice. The plot is thick, however, and Fabrizio bumbles along until he finally comes up with a plan worthy of a magician. Avi weaves in the introduction of the printing press, the belief in magic as an evil source of power, and the rarity of reading as a skill without ever making them seem like lessons. Fabrizio, because he lacks education, believes that magic is real, an understanding that gets both him and his master into more trouble. His bumbling makes it feel as though the story is pushing him along, rather than Fabrizio himself driving the narrative. Eventually, though, he learns enough about himself, and about the illusion of magic, to come through with glowing colors. An intelligent girl who is a "printer's devil" provides an excellent counterpoint to Fabrizio's worldview. The novel should appeal to reluctant readers, as the writing style is easy enough to follow despite the historical concepts.—Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Avi returns to Renaissance Pergamontio for another round of murder and political intrigue, set two years before the events of Midnight Magic (1999). Taking with a grain of salt the claims of his new master, stage magician Mangus, that there is no such thing as magic, ten-year-old ex-street orphan Fabrizio finds himself swept up in a murderous royal power struggle that results in them both being framed, thrown into prison and threatened with execution. On the way to an elaborate climactic trick set in a candle-lit, bone-strewn crypt, Fabrizio meets contending aristocrats with murky motives, a young "devil" (a printer's devil, as it turns out), a genial executioner and other colorful characters. The plot never takes a break, rushing from encounter to encounter in true audience-pleasing style; the intrigue unfolds naturally without bogging down the main event. The denouement is as contrived as can be, but readers will be glued to this suspenseful, headlong caper from first page to last. (Adventure. 10-12)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Avi's work spans nearly every genre and has received nearly every major prize, including the Newbery Medal for CRISPIN: THE CROSS OF LEAD and Newbery Honors for NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH and THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE. Avi lives in Denver, Colorado. You can visit him online at

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964

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Murder At Midnight 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This great tale is truely interesting and suspenseful. i loved it !
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Mangus the Magician is in serious trouble. A plot to overthrow the king has surfaced, and Mangus is the perfect scapegoat for a traitor lurking inside the castle walls. The whole city of Pergamontio is on edge, including poor Fabrizio, loyal servant to Mangus and his wife. Fabrizio foolishly believes that the magic Mangus creates is "real," but does not believe that his Master would try and kill the king. Mangus' real passion is philosophy and the betterment of the mind. These concepts escape Fabrizio, a simple street boy, who uses his wits to keep himself safe. Fabrizio, with the help of a fellow misfit, must bring the true conspirator to light and save Mangus from certain death. Readers are once again thrown into a story set within the confines of Renaissance Italy in MURDER AT MIDNIGHT. The story precedes the events that occur in Avi's novel MIDNIGHT MAGIC, which also features the young Fabrizio. While the story remains a mystery at heart, one cannot help but chuckle at some of the dialogue that takes place between Fabrizio and his Master. It is a fun story that moves quickly and is easy to read. Lovers of all things Avi will enjoy this light-hearted mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book for book club at the HMS Hudson Middle School i do not get it that much but it is ok i wounder what will happen next i thik it is ok it is not the best but i have to read it i wanted to read a diffrent book just by looking at yhe cover but like everye says you con not judge a book but now i kinda like it but i would not not read it and i read in and i kindlime it so you should rrad it yoy should fead l
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great bok and i highly recomend it. Mangus is convicted treason by making treasonos papers wich the king think by magic. Fabrizio is determined to save his master. The mystery is that de la bina was killed and no one knows who did it and who is trying to overthrow the casstle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MURDER AT MIDNIGHT by: AVI You will soon realize that every corner is a mystery in Pergamontio, Italy. Someone is threatening King Claudio’s life, and the guilty person sees Magnus the magician as an easy scapegoat for this treasonous crime. Magnus secretly performs magic at a bookshop at night because it is outlawed in Pergamontio. You see, the King is superstitious and fearful of magic. Magnus’ loyal servant, Fabrizio, watches him do his magic in amazement, thinking it is real. He is a young orphan boy who Magnus and his wife, Mistress Sofia, have taken in. A Man in a black cloak warns Magnus that his life is in danger. And he’s right because someone is plastering the walls of the city with messages to overthrow the King, and the King suspects it is Magnus. The messages are all written in the same imperfect writing, which seems like magic to the King. Magnus is arrested and it is up to Fabrizio to put all the clues together to save his master Magnus. Fabrizio is convinced his master really can do magic, but he doesn’t think he would commit treason. Fabrizio must find a way to prove his masters innocence before the stroke of midnight, or else he will be executed or sentenced to die in prison. Fabrizio meets a new friend, Maria, who is a “printer’s devil.” Her family owns and operates a new invention called a printer’s press. The ink from the press would cover her and make her look like a devil. She and this new technology helped Fabrizio get to the bottom of this mystery. This story is exciting, suspenseful, and there is some comedy too. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery or historical fiction, because the setting is during the Medieval times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You should read this book, this book always kept me on my toes whenn i read it :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author is planning on writing another addition to the series! Absolutely can't wait!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mungus the majican finds him self in grave danger,for he is being blamed fog making these papers that said dont fear a change anf it ment that some one wanted to dispos of the king,got later in the book you fing out who really made the papers....dela decides to blame mungus got making thr papers,he was ginven 3 instructions to do 1 collect all thr pappers that were spread bout the city 2 find out who really made that pappers 3 tell m who really made the papers.then u can be set free.well mungus's servent fabrizo thought that he vould al least do the first job so he can please his master but dela caought him ajd thought he was spreqding the papers round the city so he went to vourt sort of ajd was summond to death in less than 24 hours ajd fbriziomet the person who was gonna kill him but then messager came with a scroll for the excutioner but he could not read and fabrizio could a juet a little bit and he swore that he would tell the truth to the excutioner it said let the boy and then he sawbdeath but h lied to him qnd said that it said let thr boy be free so he got free got to see hi msterb and later in the book not to far ther will be murder at amazing book and im only 10 years old and i read it and understood it so its not a hard book to read tounf 200 pages in book but a amazing book kept u womdering all the time what was gonna happen next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!u neeed to read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Im just giving it 1 star
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Trouble is brewing in Pergamontio, Italy. The year is 1490 and a deadly plot to overthrow the king is unfolding. Papers demanding change have appeared all over the kingdom all magically the same. Magic is outlawed in Pergamontio, so surely Mangus the Magician must have something to do with this dangerous plot. Except Mangus isn't that kind of magician, at least he says so. Mangus' new servant boy, Fabrizio, is certain his master really can do magic. But he's also certain Mangus would never commit treason. If Fabrizio can unravel the mystery and reveal the true traitor he might be able to clear his master's name. And if Fabrizio can do that, maybe he can finally prove his worth to Mangus and earn the right to remain a part of the Magician's household in Murder at Midnight (2009) by Avi. Murder at Midnight is the prequel to Avi's earlier novel Midnight Magic. Avi is a widely known and beloved writer. He writes in just about every genre and, throughout his career, has earned a kind of legendary status as an author. He doesn't disappoint in this book that blends a clever mystery with humor and witty language. This book is filled with amusing characters and clever language that is straightforward yet subtle enough to appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike. That said, the dynamic of Fabrizio as a servant--often genuflecting and apologizing to his betters--felt a little over the top, not in a bad way but just in an odd way. Fabrizio might not be the quickest hero at the beginning of the story, but what he lacks in reasoning he more than makes up for in loyalty and ingenuity. Murder at Midnight is a quick, fun read. The period and setting are a good backdrop to the story but won't distract any readers put off by historical settings. At the same time, without getting into specifics, the time period also plays a very key role in the story. Possible Pairings: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen, We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C. Alexander London, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't read much which should tell you something since i read this! Avi has become my new favorite athor!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How long does it take to play as connor in AC3?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wassup people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My Sister says it sucks!
yearningtoread More than 1 year ago
I'm not impressed. I'm not even a bit excited about this book. After about 175 pages, I began skimming, hoping it would end well. I was quite disappointed. Avi has always been a wonderful author. My favorite of his is The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, but he has written others such as Poppy, Ragweed, and The End of the Beginning. However, it was the mastery and cleverness of Midnight Magic that made me want to read this book. Midnight Magic is about Mangus and Fabrizio, but can be read as a prequal, sequal, or stand-alone book next to Muder at Midnight. Midnight Magic was full of complicated mysteries, great twists and believable characters. Murder at Midnight held a mystery that can easily be explained, nothing to look forward to, and flat characters. I was surprised and bummed that it wasn't better, especially after such great experiences with Avi's works of art. But don't let this review stop you from reading Avi's other fantastic books. Enjoy them, relish them, and let them inspire you. Get caught up in the magic of his stories. I can only hope he hasn't lost his charm for the future...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago