Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms
Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms
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Lissa Evans , illus. by Temujin Doran
ISBN 9781402798061
Sterling, 2012.
5 stars
Keywords: adventure lissa-evans magic miraculous-mechanisms mystery

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms
by Lissa Evans , illus. by Temujin Doran

Lissa Evans (Their Finest Hour and a Half) combines mystery, comedy and a charming hero in a page-turning middle-grade novel.

Poor 10-year-old Stuart Horten must move to his father's hometown in order to be near his mother's new job. It's summer--how will he ever meet people his own age? But things start looking up when his family history turns into a mystery for Stuart to solve, involving the disappearance of his magician great-uncle, Teeny-Tiny Tony Horten. A curious box that the man left to Stuart's dad provides a key to unlocking other parts of the puzzle. His family once ran a factory, Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms, which manufactured locks, safes and coin-operated machinery until it was bombed during World War II. The boy also finds Great-Uncle Tony's home, scheduled for demolition. These settings both figure into Stuart's detective work. A nosy girl next door trails Stuart everywhere, and when he tries to lose her by ducking into a vintage phone booth, he gets a call that leads him to further clues, within a book at the Beeton Public Library.

Evans creates a winning hero in Stuart Horten, and allows readers to think through the clues right along with him. In a fun, ironic twist, the boy trying to find out what happened to Teeny-Tiny Tony Horten doesn't believe in his tricks. Is it all just illusion? Ultimately, readers must judge for themselves. A complete, comical and suspenseful ride... to be concluded in fall 2012 with Horten's Incredible Illusions.

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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