Goldie Vance: The Hocus-Pocus Hoax


By Lilliam Rivera

Created by Brittney Williams

Created by Hope Larson

Formats and Prices




$12.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 5, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Move over, Nancy Drew — there’s a new detective in town! Inspired by the beloved comic series, Goldie Vance is ready to sleuth her way through never-before-seen mysteries in this second original novel by Lilliam Rivera featuring 8 full-color comic pages!

Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives and works at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida with a whole slew of characters: her dad, Art, the manager of the joint; Cheryl Lebeaux, the concierge and Goldie’s best friend; and Walter Tooey, the hired hotel detective. Her mom, Sylvie, works nearby at the Mermaid Club.

Prepare to be amazed by Goldie’s second middle-grade adventure! The Crossed Palms is hosting the first ever League of Magical Arts Convention, bringing the world’s most renowned and emerging magicians to the resort, including an overeager part-time magician and detective named Derek Von Thurston. When some of the magic starts to go awry, Goldie — and Derek — are on the case! Can Goldie uncover the saboteur before the final act goes live?

Based on Hope Larson and Brittney Williams’s critically acclaimed Goldie Vance comic, this thrilling novel explores a never-before-seen caper and features 8 full-color comic pages essential to unraveling the mystery.

Text and Illustration copyright: © 2021 BOOM! Studios
Goldie Vance(TM) and © 2021 Hope Larson & Brittney Williams


Chapter One

WHEN I WAS A KID, EVERYONE—AND I DO MEAN everyone—in my first-grade class was glued to their television screen every Saturday morning to watch the great Dr. Von Thurston’s Magical Hour. Dr. Von Thurston was by far the biggest thing to hit the tube since Adventures of Superman. His commercials promised that his tricks would “dazzle and amaze” viewers of all ages. I had never watched, but I was curious to see what all the hoopla was about. So, one Saturday morning, I asked Dad if I could tune in. He said yes! I ate some delicious waffles and then sat down to watch, excited to take in all the magic.

Well, as the hour came to a close, I didn’t feel dazzled or amazed. All I could think as Dr. Von Thurston swished around his set in his super-fancy, jewel-encrusted cape and performed his feats of magical wonder was this: He had to be using marked cards! There are only so many tricks you can perform with a real deck of cards, so he had to be up to something to do all the things he did. But before I could truly close the case, I needed to do some homework.

I spent the rest of the day and night trying to prove this magician was all smoke and mirrors. I found my own deck of cards and attempted to replicate what Dr. Von Thurston did on the small screen. After hours of practice, I came pretty close to figuring out how he was pulling it off. At school on Monday, I shared my findings with the other kids in class, and let’s just say they were not too happy about it. In fact, their exact words were, “Goldie, why are you such a party pooper?”

And that was my short-lived odyssey into the magical arts. Sigh.

“Can you stop playing with that thing and lend us a hand?”

I snap out of my memory. Cheryl Lebeaux, my best friend and my favorite super genius, is a little annoyed with me at the moment. See, I’m meant to be helping her decorate the ballroom for the League of Magical Arts Convention. Crossed Palms Resort, the place where I work and live, will be the center for illusionary tricks, hocus-pocus, and all things sleight of hand, which is pretty cool considering my original take on the magic stuff. That’s why I’m standing right outside the ballroom, trying my best to figure out how this woven finger trap actually works. How did my fingers get stuck? It’s so bizarre. There is a simple, logical explanation and I aim to figure it out, even if it means losing a digit or two.


“Okay, okay. I’ll be right with you, Cheryl. Just give me a few seconds,” I say as I try to unstick my stuck fingers. “I think I can decode this trick. Maybe I should just cut it open.…”

Cheryl is doing what I should be doing. She is neatly placing a woven finger trap on each table setting, and there are hundreds of tables.

Earlier this morning, Mr. Maple, our boss and the owner of the Crossed Palms Resort, gathered everyone—hotel staff, valet, custodians, the works—and told us we were all on the League of Magical Arts Convention’s welcoming-party committee.

“No fooling around. This is a big account and I don’t want any mistakes,” Mr. Maple barked. Then he pointed his thick pointer finger at us all to prove he meant business, even though he was looking directly at me, which I found to be a little presumptuous of him. I have every intention to not get distracted or fool around. I’m also not one to make mistakes.

Back in the present, I look down at my stuck digits. “Rob, how do I get my fingers out of this thing?” I ask.

Rob, my other best friend and an expert in the art of valet parking (like moi), is at the far end of the ballroom. He’s distributing programs next to the place settings.

Rob starts to trot over to where I’m leaning against the long bar. But one quick glance from Cheryl makes him change his mind. Rob has a crush on Cheryl, and Cheryl doesn’t believe in goofing off at work. Too bad for Rob. Too bad for Cheryl. And too bad for me and my confounded fingers.

Suddenly, Evan appears from behind the bar. He has shaggy blond hair, a slight build, and a sweet smile. He’s been working at Crossed Palms Resort for only a little under six months. He may be a newcomer, but he fits right in, especially when he makes me the sweetest Shirley Temple in town. I know—what’s so special about that? Well, Evan adds at least ten cherries and multiple tiny umbrellas, which I love. A fancy drink for a not-so-fancy gal. Now do you get it?

Evan has this lucky coin he’s always tossing up in the air. He told me the beautiful gold coin is rare, something he got on a recent trip to Sweden. He’s always asking me to guess which side it’ll land on—heads or tails. If I guess right, I get another Shirley Temple. Fifty-fifty chances are my type of odds.

“What’s the word from the bird?” Evan asks.

“Not much, Evan, just my fingers stuck in this trap,” I say. “Do you know anything about these things?”

Evan places a box filled with glasses on the bar and carefully studies my hands. “As a matter of fact, I do.” He gently puts his fingers on the link between mine and starts to do some sort of massaging thing. Within seconds, I have my pointer fingers back. Was that magic?

“How did you do that, Evan? I’ve been trying to wiggle out of this joint for the past thirty minutes with absolutely no luck,” I say.

“It’s an easy enough trick. Anyone can figure it out,” he replies with a shrug.

“While you’ve been playing around, we’ve been doing the majority of the work,” Cheryl adds as she and Rob join the two of us. She takes my discarded finger trap and places it at the final table setting.

“I wouldn’t call what I was doing ‘playing.’ It was more like sacrificing my pointers for the greater good of the League of Magical Arts Convention’s order and business,” I say. “Consider my act a generous gift to the welcoming-party committee.”

Cheryl places her hands on her hips. She’s not quite buying my excuse. That’s okay. At least I was able to get away from parking cars, which is technically my job. I can only imagine what that will be like when the magicians finally arrive. Will they hide their car keys and relocate them behind my ears? Will I have to corral bunnies? Will I have to memorize various abracadabras?

“You know, these magicians are just peddling a whole lot of monkey business,” Evan says. “If you ask me, the whole convention is a big waste of time.”

Wow. Who would have thought sweet, friendly Evan would feel so strongly about the magical arts? Not me.

“No way. This is the best thing that has ever happened to Crossed Palms Resort and St. Pascal,” Rob says. “The whole United States, if you ask me.”

Rob was in my first-grade class. Not only did he watch Dr. Von Thurston’s Magical Hour each and every Saturday morning like clockwork, but he also got his parents to buy the Dr. Von Thurston Magic Kit, the Dr. Von Thurston cape, and most important, Dr. Von Thurston’s How to Be a Magician in Thirty Days. Rob has not stopped talking about the convention ever since Mr. Maple told us about it two months ago. He’s a fan, with a capital F!

“You too, huh? Charmed by the illusionary arts,” Evan says, shaking his head. “Well, don’t be. The real trick is that all these people are just hiding behind flashy costumes and glimmering mirrors. Strip that down and you just get someone with a tall story to tell.”

Evan returns to the back of the bar, leaving poor Rob looking dejected. I place my arm around his shoulders.

“Forget about him. Soon you’ll be in the same hotel as the great Dr. Von Thurston,” I say, trying to comfort Rob. “How are you even going to stand it?”

“Yeah,” Cheryl chimes in. “Can you believe he’s the top headliner of the whole conference?”

Rob’s sad expression slides right off his face. “How will I approach him? Should I carry his book with me everywhere so I can tell him how it changed my life and he can sign it? Or maybe I could just try and ask him for some advice.… What do you think?”

Cheryl shakes her head. “The first thing Mr. Maple said to me this morning was, ‘Make sure no one bothers the headliners.’ That definitely includes you, Rob.”

Rob scratches his head. Poor guy. This is his big chance to meet his hero. I decide right then and there to help him achieve his goal. That’s what friends are for.

“What’s on the agenda?” I ask.

Cheryl gathers her clipboard of very important notes. More than 3,500 budding and world-famous magicians will be converging on the resort within hours to attend this conference. Cheryl says the convention was planned ages ago and attendees have traveled from across the country to be here. It’s the biggest magic convention in the US, and Mr. Maple has apparently been courting it for years. Now that we’ve finally gotten it, every establishment in St. Pascal has gone full-on alakazam. Restaurants have transformed their menus to include “bewitching burgers.” My favorite fruit stand right off the highway has started putting out ads that say, Levitate Your Date!

“After this, I’m set to meet with the organizers of the convention to go over the seating chart one more time,” Cheryl says. “There are so many opinions on which mentalist should sit with which conjuror. I didn’t even know there was a difference.”

“Well, actually, there is a very important distinction between—”

Cheryl raises her hand to stop Rob from explaining.

“I’m doing it again, ain’t I?” he says sheepishly. “Sorry, I can’t help it. I guess I’m excited.”

I chuckle. Rob has gotten into serious tangents about magic tricks and magician lingo before. The detours are super useful when Cheryl has to help the chef come up with a new themed menu but are not as helpful after we’ve heard him explain the linking-rings illusion five hundred times.

Rob, Cheryl, and I lean against the bar and survey the completed setup. The Sugar Maple Ballroom is named after Mr. Maple’s daughter, Sugar, who I refuse to discuss at any length. She’s my archnemesis, though she wasn’t always my enemy. We used to be the best of friends. I even have pictures of us laughing and playing. Then… I’m not sure what happened. She just became super competitive with me and, ugh—Sugar can be such a meanie. One time she…

Oops. I digress.

Anyway, my favorite longtime hotel resident, Miss Dupart, likes to say, “Darling, if they are expending so much energy on you, they must be very attuned to your divine glow.” Can you believe it? My divine glow? I didn’t even know I had a glow, let alone one that’s enchanting the world. Miss Dupart knows all there is to know about glow—she used to be a famous Hollywood star! Now she’s a Crossed Palms Resort resident who spends most of her time lounging with her trusty sidekick, her tiny poodle, Clementine. Miss Dupart is the best.

The Sugar Maple Ballroom is one of three ballrooms in the hotel. When you enter it, the first thing you notice is the massive chandelier overtaking the center of the ceiling. Each crystal on the chandelier is brilliant and sparkles like a diamond. The chandelier lights up the room and is quite a wonder. Even though the other two ballrooms are much smaller, they’re still just as glorious.

“I think we did a great job,” I say.

We?” Cheryl and Rob ask simultaneously.

“I helped! Now I can totally vouch that the woven finger trap works,” I say defensively. “The magicians are experts. They’re not going to accept just any old party favor. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Cheryl nudges me a little with her shoulder.

“You’re right,” she admits.

“Is your date with Diane still happening today?” Rob asks.

Finally! A topic that’s truly magical in every sense of the word. I can’t help letting out a long, swoony sigh. I’m positive my peepers look like big ol’ thumping hearts right now.

Diane works at Wax Lips, the record store, and she’s the most beautiful person in St. Pascal. She has short hair, she sometimes models, and she has a love for striped shirts. Did I mention how beautiful she is? I’ve always crushed on her from afar, but I recently took my crush to the next level. I asked her to have dinner with me, and she said yes!

“Yup. This is our official official first date,” I say, feeling myself getting just slightly flustered. “We’ve hung out at Wax Lips a couple of times, we’ve listened to music, and boy, can she drive a getaway car! But today is different.”

Cheryl adjusts one of the plate settings. “Where did you finally decide to go?”

“I’m taking you up on your advice and going somewhere nice. We have reservations at Josephine’s for dinner.”

“With music! Don’t forget the music,” Cheryl says. “A violin player visits each table and serenades the guests. It’s very romantic.”

My cheesy grin gets even cheesier.

“Wow, you’re really going all out, huh, Goldie?” Rob asks.

“The restaurant overlooks the ocean, so maybe we can take a walk afterward.” Then I pause. “Is that too much?”

“It’s kind of funny to see you this way, Goldie,” Rob says. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so nervous in all my life.”

Oh my goodness. Rob is right. I’ve got to pull myself together. I fix my yellow headband and pull down my uniform’s sweater-vest. My face is burning up. Rob and Cheryl exchange bemused looks. I try my best to shake off my nerves. I’m at work. I can’t let thoughts of Diane distract me.

And that’s when I start to hear something.

“Hey, do you hear that?” I ask. Both of them shake their heads, but I can totally pick up something out of the ordinary. It’s a low rumbling, as if a train is heading straight toward the ballroom.

“Listen,” I insist. Cheryl and Rob strain their ears. They even lean forward. Still nothing. Then I notice the table.

I point to the glasses. They’re trembling and making clinking sounds that are getting increasingly loud. It can’t be an earthquake. St. Pascal rarely gets them because we’re a tropical town. Hurricanes and heat waves are more our speed. But this is a different type of storm. A man-made one.

“Oh boy.” Rob finally hears it. He eyes the door, but there’s no time for a quick escape. My calculations tell me we might as well face whoever is about to enter the Sugar Maple Ballroom. We get ready, our hands by our sides.

Evan appears with another box of glasses. Rob shakes his head at him, and Evan stashes the box away and pulls a rag from behind the counter to give the bar a quick polish.

The noise gets louder. The train is approaching the station.

“Ready?” Cheryl asks. We nod.

We brace ourselves as the vibrations shaking the dishes on the tables get more violent. This can mean one thing and one thing only.

“What’s going on in here?!” Mr. Maple bellows as he enters the ballroom.

Chapter Two

THE OWNER OF THE CROSSED PALMS RESORT STORMS into the ballroom like a Category 2 hurricane. His dedicated and patient secretary walks behind him, as does a whole entourage of people. Mr. Maple rarely leaves his office. When he does, he usually travels with a crowd. I like to call them his pencil-pushing gang, but Dad is not too keen on me using the word gang. The pencil-pushing gang—hotel-office people—gives me the “look.” The “look” is a warning every employee at the Crossed Palms Resort learns as soon as they start working here. It’s used to alert everyone in the surrounding area that Mr. Maple is in rare form.

“Mr. Maple, we’re just about done with the ballroom,” Cheryl says. She clasps the clipboard to her chest, almost like a shield. It’s times like these I try to yield the floor to Cheryl. She often works closely with Mr. Maple and his massive entourage. I rarely get the pleasure because I’m usually busy parking cars. Even though I’m good at it, everyone knows what I really want to be is the house detective. I’ve been training my whole life, ever since Mom gave me my first magnifying glass when I was seven.

“Humph,” Mr. Maple grunts. He strolls steadily around the tables, inspecting our work. I get an itchy feeling inside, an urge to say something. It’s hard to suppress it but I must, especially since Mr. Maple’s entourage contains two very important people. First is the hotel’s actual house detective, Walter Tooey, who’s currently looking a bit nervous and wiping a bead of sweat from his brow. Walt is my mentor, and I’m his assistant. In between parking cars, I help him solve mysteries. Walt says I have a good eye for it. And I do! Just the other week I helped solve the case of the missing Bejeweled Aqua Chapeau, and then there was the case with that Soviet spy. It was kind of a big deal, which I guess makes me kind of a big deal, too.

“Hi, Walt!” I say, waving. He in turn flashes me the “look.” I respond with a grin. Walt does not return my smile. As Rob said just minutes ago, Oh boy.

Right behind Walt is my dear ol’ dad. Dad is the manager of the Crossed Palms Resort. He’s really good at what he does. He’s patient and calm, the two things you need when working at a very busy and popular resort. There’s always a crisis that needs to be averted, and Dad does so with ease.

Dad sees me and gives me a wink, which is all it takes to make me feel better.

“You!” Mr. Maple points to Evan.

“Yes, sir?”

“These are very important clients,” Mr. Maple barks. “When table one is seated, make sure the drinks are flowing, and don’t skimp on the powerful stuff. I don’t care about the rest of the tables. Keep your eye on table one.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll make sure the glasses are filled to the brim on table one,” Evan says. “Any special drink orders?”

Mr. Maple swivels over to his crowd of people pleasers, and they start to whisper among themselves until his secretary eventually steps forward. She whispers something to my dad, who also steps out of the blob of people.

“Dr. Von Thurston is set to be seated at table one like you requested, Mr. Maple,” Dad says.

“Well, of course he is!” Mr. Maple yells. “Dr. Von Thompson is the top headliner. Where else would he sit?”

“It’s Von Thurston,” I say.

My comment hushes the entourage. You can practically hear Walt’s heart thrumming against his rib cage. No one corrects Mr. Maple, especially not a short girl with a yellow headband.

“That’s what I said—Von Thurston,” Mr. Maple says, totally ignoring my existence. Then he goes right back to addressing the whole ballroom. “What about it?”

“He will only drink iced tea with a slice of lime,” Dad says.

“Then make sure he gets his iced tea!”

Evan nods and goes back to standing like a statue behind the bar. Mr. Maple continues his inspection.

“What is this here? What is this?” Mr. Maple picks up a woven finger trap and everyone freezes again. I see Cheryl grimace while Rob stares at the carpeted floor. When no one pipes up, Mr. Maple prods again. “Well?”

“I would be careful if I were you, Mr. Maple,” I say, breaking formation to walk over to him. “It’s a woven finger trap, and I spent the last half hour trying to extract my stuck fingers. If you look closely, you can see it’s still red.”

I show him my finger, and Mr. Maple steps back as if I’d shown him a broken body part.

“Whose idea was this?”

Now it’s Cheryl’s turn to step up to the plate.

“The League of Magical Arts sent us party favors,” she says. “They wanted to make sure the guests leave with a little token for their continued support.”

“A trick?” Mr. Maple says with disgust.

At the far end of the ballroom, the doors swing wide open.

“Good morning!”

Angela Diaz enters, wearing a pretty, yellow fit-and-flare dress. “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

Angela Diaz goes by the name of Angela, the Sorceress of Wonder, and she’s St. Pascal’s very own magician. I love watching her work. Angela tells me it’s rare to see a female magician grace the stage. Women are usually relegated to assistant positions, but the Sorceress of Wonder comes from a long line of magicians, so she accepts nothing less. Her father is a magician. Her grandfather is, too. As a kid, Angela toured the states with her family, performing at various festivals and county fairs. Her father now owns a small magic shop here in town, where you can pick up all types of tricks. It’s a pretty fun shop.

Angela is set to entertain the group tonight.


  • Praise for Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit:

    "Goldie's endless optimism and belief in herself inspire while creating amusing moments in this satisfying gumshoe mystery. Comic book inserts by animator Power further enliven action-packed segments."—Publishers Weekly
  • "[...] [S]he [Rivera] shows herself to be skilled at combining noir language conventions with contemporary sensibilities in a way that doesn't feel anachronistic but is just a gas! [...] This biracial, LGBTQ protagonist seamlessly shifts from comics to prose in a winner of a series opener."—Kirkus
  • "Readers will love Goldie, an ambitious female lead who challenges gender roles, is gay, and is not to be underestimated. [...] A great purchase for middle grade collections, especially those whose readers are looking for their next boisterous supersleuth."—School Library Journal

On Sale
Jan 5, 2021
Page Count
256 pages

Lilliam Rivera

Lilliam Rivera

About the Author

Lilliam Rivera is the award-winning author of Dealing in Dreams and The Education of Margot Sanchez. She was nominated for a 2019 Rhode Island Teen Book Award, a 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adult Fiction by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and has been featured on NPR, New York Times Book Review, New York magazine,, and Teen Vogue, among others. Lilliam lives in Los Angeles.

Learn more about this author