Stuart Horton is a boy (ten but looks younger) who, due to a job opportunity for his mom, had to move from his home to a new, smaller home, in the town of Beeton. It is the small town where his father grew up and he soon discovers his family has a strange and mysterious history in Beeton.
Lissa Evans wrote two books about Stuart published here in the USA as Horton’s Miraculous Mechanisms and Horton’s Incredible Illusions (different names in England where she’s from). I decided to write my review of these books as one for two reasons. They are both equally good. They are also both short (under 300 pages put together) and they are really all the same story. In fact the whole of the two books takes place in only a matter of weeks.
Stuart discovers that his father’s uncle was a well-known magician in town. That with a gift given to Stuart’s father by this uncle (Tiny Tony Horton) sets Stuart on an adventure to discover what happened to Uncle Tony. He befriends a young girl living next door and she helps him to solve the mysteries he comes upon.
I enjoyed these two books quite a bit. They are very quick reads (they are written with younger tween to early teen kids in mind) but I always enjoy a well written book regardless of the target age. It’s got a lot of action, mystery, and a little danger (of the kids variety). And because Uncle Tony was a magician there is also an elusive sense of magic in the first book that becomes more concrete in the second.
It’s also good when an author has his or her series planned out in advance. If they know where they are going to end when they start. It allows them to insert details and characters early on that they might have overlooked if they just wrote as the story took them. Clearly the author knew where the story was going. It creates a sense of realism that is good in a fantasy book of this type. It grounds it. And while I’d like to see more adventures with Stuart, the story come to a conclusion satisfactorily.
I’d recommend these books for readers as young as 10 but even older if they are not “readers” like I was as a kid.