*Instagram Photo Credit: @jennygabyjean18
When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B.B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on.
After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded kids. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they’ll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso’s villainous clutches. These six Magic Misfits will soon discover adventure, friendship, and their own self-worth in this delightful new series.
I need to preface this by saying that I’m quite a fan of middlegrade novels and of Neil Patrick Harris, so my expectations may have been a bit high going into this, but regardless, I was ultimately a bit disappointed.
In general I sensed hints of A Series of Unfortunate Events in the way the narrator was ever present with their own personality and in the way the plot was paused at times to explain the definition of words (and it may also have been in my mind since NPH is in that new Netflix series). There was also a play with names to reference Harry Potter with two of the adults named Mr. Vernon and someone referencing the name ‘Petunia’. I do like how this book does try to pay tribute to those popular middlegrade series that come before it, but it also kind of feels like it’s ripping them off a bit…
As far as the plot goes, it’s totally fine. Think of the movie “Now You See Me”, but imagine the main characters as children and in a children’s book – that’s what this felt like – which I loved! Children using illusion of bust the bad guys…the plot was great! I just feel like the pacing was really off. On one hand the book is really short and there was a lot of action, but one the other hand it still felt like there was a dullness or flatness to it.
The dullness may have had something to do with the characters. While I loved them, I just wish they had been expanded on more! Aside from the MC, I feel like we were introduced to the other characters and their magic skills and that was it. There really wasn’t much depth to them. Take Leila for example (wow I just had to look up her name because I already forgot), she had two dads, likes escape magic, is an optimist, and feel out of place in school. That’s all I really know about her; I liked her well enough but I really didn’t feel a connection of her at all.
I do think it was funny how much NPH seemed to insert his personal life into the story. I mean, the MC is a skinny blond boy who likes magic – remind you of anyone? As well, there is a girl with two dad, one of which she calls “poppa”…if you’ve read NPH’s autobiography, these types of things will REALLY jump out at you. There’s nothing wrong with it, I actually kinda enjoyed the scavenger hunt for NPH in the story!
And while I didn’t care about magic instruction much, I’m also not the target audience. I imagine that kids would love the chapter breaks that have instructions on how to perform a magic trick as well as the interacting coded fill-in-the-words sections too. For it’s size, it’s a decently interactive book. I just felt like the prose and characters lacked a certain magic that the plot had.