Cover image for Trick of the eye
Trick of the eye
Haseley, Dennis.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
199 pages ; 22 cm
Upon discovering that he can enter paintings and speak with the people in them, a twelve-year-old boy sets out on a journey of discovery that ultimately leads to his own forgotten past.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.8 8.0 78487.
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Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Richard has started seeing things. And hearing them too. Suddenly he has discovered that he can communicate with the characters in paintings. And they’ve begun to tell him that there’s something he has forgotten—something important in his past that he’ll be able to remember if only he can find the right painting. Does he dare look for it? Does he dare remember?In this intriguing, intricate novel with a Gothic flare, Dennis Haseley has spun a breathtakingly original mystery. The ending will astonish you.

Author Notes

Dennis Haseley is a teacher, author, community organzier, and a professional fund raiser. Some of his titles are The Invisible Moose, The Soap Bandit, The Kite Flier, Photographer Mole and The Amazing Thinking Machine..

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8-10. Haseley mines familiar territory in the story of Richard, an alienated young boy who functions in a reality of his own creation. The novel revolves around Richard's ability to communicate with the figures in works of art. These conversations lead him to investigate the mysterious disappearance of several paintings from various galleries in his small town. Gradually, the clues not only unlock the mystery of the missing art but also restore long-suppressed, troubling memories concerning Richard's own past. Haseley has chosen an odd narrative structure, with Richard drifting in and out of his painting-dialogues--a device that may lead some readers to assume that they are witnessing his mental breakdown. By book's end, Richard's psychological state is still not entirely clear, but the family secret, though somewhat soap-operatic in nature, does go a long way toward explaining his quirks and motivations. The unconventional storytelling style and some veiled sexual content limits this to older readers, who will find it a fine introduction to art analysis alongside the well-woven mystery. --Terry Glover Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Elliptical in its storytelling and circuitous in its structure, Haseley's (The Amazing Thinking Machine) mannered novel will likely intrigue some readers with its notions about art as illusion, but may leave others confused or even bored. Richard, referred to as "the boy," seems to be entering the painting that hangs in his house and talking with the figures within. Educated at home, by a tutor (the story is set in an indeterminate past), Richard has been expelled from school because of his violent response to a suddenly surfacing memory of a trauma from early childhood. Now the figures in the paintings seem to be giving Richard clues about another mystery in his past, which may or may not be connected to thefts from a nearby art gallery. A long sequence has Richard at a museum, entering masterpieces ? la James Mayhew's Katie books and talking to the subjects. But is "the boy" actually wandering into the paintings and solving a mystery, or is he losing his mind? The author writes in impressionistic, attenuated prose with figures piping up in strange voices ("He said cooo cooo cooo. He said la, she said la la laaaaa"). The cloud of ambiguity does not lift until the last few pages, when one of the characters spells out the tragedies that Richard has witnessed and hidden even from himself. Unfortunately, readers may not care enough about Richard to puzzle out the mystifications. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-9-Richard talks to the characters in paintings; they respond. They seem to be telling him that he has forgotten something important in his past. Confused and friendless, the boy lives with his mother, who has told him that his father drowned in a shipwreck. A tutor teaches him at home, but he can't remember why he has been sent away from school. Second-rate, slightly altered copies of famous paintings are being stolen from galleries in his city, and they become clues for Richard. For most of this novel, readers wonder if they are reading about the descent into madness of a bewildered and disturbed boy. It is only in the last dozen or so pages that the story becomes somewhat clearer. Readers learn that nine years ago, when Richard was three, he spied on his uncle, a painter for whom Richard's mother, Annabel, was modeling and with whom she was having an affair. When she tells him that she is involved with another man, the painter murders her and Richard witnesses the crime. His aunt, Annabel's sister, ships her husband off to a mental institution and raises the boy as her own. Richard realizes that his aunt has loved him, and is ready to go back to school and get on with his life. Minimally drawn characters and a weak plot that is puzzling and ambiguous give this brooding tale limited appeal. There is an impressionistic, surreal quality to the novel that makes it difficult to read.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.