Midnight Magic



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At midnight in the pouring rain, someone starts pounding on the door of Mangus the Magician's house. Mangus' servant Fabrizio runs to the door, frightened about who would come to visit at this time of night. Ever since Mangus was put on trial for being a magician and found guilty, no one wanted to visit them.

"Who's there?" Fabrizio calls through the door. "A message from the castello!" someone shouts from the other side.

Fabrizio's worst fears are confirmed. The castello was where Mangus had been put on trial. He opens the door to find a soldier standing outside.
Read the following passage from pages 5-6 in the hardcover edition:

"A message for Mangus the Magician," the soldier shouted above the storm.

"Signore!" Fabrizio called, reciting the response he had been instructed to give to all who came to the door: "My master, Magnus of Pergamontio, no longer practices magic! Under the loving protection of King Claudio, ... he has seen the error of his ways and has repented! Magic is an evil!"

"Evil or not," the soldier returned over the roaring storm, "it's urgent he come to the door."

Fabrizio gave another practiced reply. "Signore!" he cried. "If you wish to engage my master with anything concerning his former, sinful ways, he will not see you!"

So the soldier gives Fabrizio a message: the king wants Mangus to come to the castello. And when they arrive there, they discover why. King Claudio says his daughter, the princess, is being haunted by a ghost. He wants Mangus to get rid of it.

Mangus, though, doesn't believe in ghosts. Even though he was a magician, he thinks the princess must have seen something else.

Was it a ghost? What did the princess see? To find out, read Midnight Magic by Avi.

Discussion questions

  1. What kind of a person is Fabrizio? What sections of the book made you think that?
  2. Why was Mangus convicted of wizardry? Do you think this was fair?
  3. Why does Mangus agree to investigate the ghost even though he doesn't believe in ghosts?
  4. Mangus often tells Fabrizio that ghosts don't exist. Why do you think Fabrizio continues to believe in the ghost? Do you think he still believes in ghosts at the end of the book?
  5. Read Mangus and Fabrizio's conversation at the beginning of chapter 8 (ending with "Fabrizio, enough of this banter."). Mangus and Fabrizio use sayings like these throughout the book. What do you think they meant in this passage? What were some of your favorite sayings in the book?
  6. When speaking of his trial, Mangus says, "To be found guilty by those whose only evidence is fear is but a judgment on their own fears." What do you think he means by this statement?
  7. Why does Fabrizio practice magic tricks at the castello even after Mangus has warned him not to?
  8. What kind of person is King Claudio? What sections of the book made you think this way?
  9. After Mangus sees the "ghost" for the first time, he lies to Count Scarazoni, saying he did not hear it speak. Why does he lie?
  10. Describe the way the royal family created the "ghost."
  11. Did you guess Rinaldo's true identity before it was revealed? What were some clues that he was not who he claimed to be?
  12. While Fabrizio is pretending to be the ghost, a bolt of lightning crackles above his head. Later Mangus says he did not create the lightning. How do you think it happened?

If you liked this book try

  • Hester Bidgood, Investigatrix of Evill Deedes by E.W. Hildick
  • The Man Who Was Poe by Avi
  • Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
  • The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood


Dried fruits (such as figs or raisins), crusty bread, or other foods that were popular during the Renaissance

Portions of this guide are credited to the Scholastic's Midnight Magic Discussion Guide.