When Stuart Horten moves to Beeton with his family, he is convinced that there is nothing at all to do. His father, a crossword designer, persuades him to take a brief “perambulation”, where they encounter Uncle Tony Horton’s house, neglected and abandoned. Uncle Tony, a magician who created many unique magic contraptions, is long gone. He disappeared without a word. Where is he? Finding out what happened to him is the heart of this enchanting adventure.
This book was entertaining and perfect for middle readers. Stuart, the short little boy in a family of tall people, wants to figure out the family mystery. He is rather clever and connects the dots by putting together the clues that he is given. His plans are not without flaws, however. He miscalculates, gets caught by the villain, and needs help. Solving a mystery is difficult, after all. In the end, Stuart has to make a choice that forces him to decide between himself and others. He learns vital lessons about family, friendship, and appreciating what you have.
The supporting characters in this book are charming. Stuart’s father, with his expansive vocabulary, is frustrating to Stuart, but I enjoyed his relationship with his son. April, May, and June, the triplets who live next door to Stuart, chronicle his misadventures in their homemade newspaper. They are a thorn in Stuart’s side (at first), but provide comic relief. Only April is a character of any importance until the end of the story, but she is a spunky and clever girl. I would hope that all the triplets would have more of a presence in any future books. I also loved Leonora, the older, blind woman who helps Stuart.
The combination of magic, mystery, and adventure in this story was so much fun to read. Middle readers will be eager to follow the clues with Stuart and solve the puzzle of the missing magician.
Regina - I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are expressly my own.