This was a surprisingly good read, and my daughter enjoyed it particularly.
Joey Kopecky is from the very non-magical New Jersey (this is the second book we've read that posited NJ is not magical; why is that?) until he gets a perfect score on a state exam, the PMAP, (our AZ equivalent is the AZ MERIT) and he's asked to re-test for entry to the prestigious school, Exemplar Academy.
Except, when Joey shows up at the testing center, it's rigged. The proctor is not associated with the PMAP, and he gives Joey a completely different examination -- a trunk full of 150 magic tricks for Joey to master in one hour.
Joey reads the instructions, gets them all done with time to spare, and discovers, at the bottom of the box, a key with a string attached. A note says to pull the string, Joey does, and he's transported to the street outside The Majestic theater.
Fantasms immediately attack him. He uses the key to open a door to the Theater and once safe inside, encounters a man upside down inside a tank of water, working to free himself from chains, a straight-jacket, etc., one of Houdini's famous illusions.
Joey smashes the tank with a crowbar, saving the magician...he thinks. Until the magician reveals he was never really in any danger, and the water itself is a semi-sentient dangerous thing that tries to kill them, until the old magician rebottles it.
Redondo reveals the box was a test, trying to identify candidates for his replacement / retirement or death, whichever comes first. Whoever passes the test will be the next protector of the Majestic, keeping it from the order of The Invisible Hand, which has been trying to get into the theater for decades.
Joey competes against two other teen magicians, Shazad and Leonora, but in the end, the Theater itself picks its new guardian.
I won't reveal the ending, but we enjoyed the tale a lot. We're not usually big readers of old-fashioned magician stories, but this qualifies as a great new take on the old trope.