Magic, mystery & a
very strange adventure
The exciting launch title of Sterling's middle-grade fiction list:
HORTEN'S MIRACULOUS MECHANISMS Enter a wonderful world filled with real magic, mystery … and danger.
As if being small for his age and also having S. Horten as his name isn't bad enough, now 10-year-old Stuart is forced to move far away from all his friends. But on his very first day in his new home, Stuart's swept up in an extraordinary adventure: the quest to find his great-uncle Tony--a famous magician who literally disappeared off the face of the earth--and Tony's marvelous, long-lost workshop. Along the way, Stuart reluctantly accepts help from the annoying triplets next door… and encounters trouble from another magician who's also desperate to get hold of Tony's treasures.
A quirky, smart, charming page-turner, Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms will enchant young readers--as well as teachers, librarians, and parents.
This was such a fun story! Stuart is a curious, intelligent but bored young boy who is alone in a new town. Since it's summer vacation he doesn't even have school to meet new friends. With nothing to do and no one to do it with anyway, he is thrilled when a small mystery turns into an amazing adventure. The blurb on the book describes it as "Willy Wonka-like" and I agree that it has the same delicious flavor but is it's own, more sinister, tale.
The setting is a combination of modern England and fifty years prior during the highlight of great-uncle Tony's career. The Great Hortini (Uncle Tony) was famous for his clever gadgets and illusions but he disappeared without a trace. Now Stuart seems to be chosen to piece together the clues of this family mystery. As he becomes more involved, the adventure becomes dangerous and the pages fly by. This may be a children's book but I was caught up in it from the beginning and I enjoyed every minute. This is the kind of story I craved as a child. The characters are eccentric, humorous and interesting with the perfect mix of heroes and villains. And the whimsical black and white drawings at the beginning of every chapter add the perfect touch. The ending is very satisfying and answers several questions while nicely setting up the next book.
Delightful, creative and magical - so cliche but so true! This is just the beginning of a new series that I can't wait to continue. The sequel is coming in the fall of 2012.
Thank you to Sterling Children's Books for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 4/3/12
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
Pages: 272 (hardcover)
Type: middle grade fiction