Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, and a Very Strange Adventure

( 21 )

Overview

Enter a wonderful world filled with real magic, mystery, and danger.

As if being small and 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 ...

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Horten's Incredible Illusions: Magic, Mystery & Another Very Strange Adventure

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Overview

Enter a wonderful world filled with real magic, mystery, and danger.

As if being small and 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.
 
 Long-listed for the Carnegie Medal (2012) and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (2011)

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  • Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms
    Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Evans borrows several classic tropes and themes—magic, riddles, a quest, and even a night at a museum—for the entertaining story of 10-year-old Stuart Horten (often nicknamed “Shorten” for his small stature) who stumbles into a family mystery when he and his parents move to the small British town of Beeton. There, ­Stuart discovers that his Great-Uncle Tony Horten, who disappeared years ago without a trace, was both an inventor of mechanical devices and a magician. A chance phone call in a broken phone booth is the first step in a journey that leads Stuart around town, as he unearths his great-uncle’s legacy and secrets. Stuart also draws the attention of April, May, and June (the journalistically inclined triplets next door), as well as Beeton residents with more sinister intentions. Evans has crafted an old-fashioned mystery of the kids-besting-clueless-adults variety. Stuart’s dweeby parents are particularly hapless (his father, a crossword puzzle creator, regularly drops lines like “Behold, I bring hydration for your powwow”). First published in the U.K., Evans’s story leaves the door open for the sequel due in September. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)
The Guardian
Small Stuart embarks on an awfully big adventure in this quirky puzzle-solving novel....Each more curious than the one before, the far-fetched solutions they require bring the book to a hugely satisfying conclusion.
The Independent
An adventure that will enthrall smaller people and the adults reading to them in equal measure.
The Bookbag
The action cracks along at a good pace and is a brilliant pre-teen magical mystery story.
Fun Kids
This story has time travel, dastardly villains, lots of machinery and some seriously good adventures!
From the Publisher
"Wacky, funny and ever so mysterious, this clever tale hits the ground running and never lets up. Very short 10-year-old Stuart Horten—S. Horten, get it?—thinks he’s facing a long, boring summer when his parents pack the three of them up and move to his father’s hometown as school lets out. His parents are a pleasantly oblivious pair: His mom is an unimaginative doctor, and his father designs crosswords for a living. (He joyfully tosses around hundred-dollar words like 'prestidigitator' and 'perambulation.') Stuart quickly discovers the long-abandoned home of his great uncle Teeny-Tiny Tony Horton, a famous magician who disappeared 50 years before, and the puzzle box left to his incurious father. Resourceful Stuart wants to learn more, but he’s plagued by the girl next door, who’s intently following him everywhere. Just as a fabulous clue appears in a vandalized phone booth, the prying girl, April, shows up, and it turns out she’s identical twins—oh, no! triplets—April, May and June. And they’re shortly followed by the villainous, entrepreneurial Jeannie, hot on Stuart’s heels. The pace is rapid, the clues to Tony’s disappearance are intriguing and the characters are vividly—often hilariously—drawn. Irony runs hand in hand with just enough believable danger to create palpable tension.
A vastly engaging, must-read mystery infused with the perfect touch of captivating conjuration—er, magic." --Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) 
 
“Evans borrows several classic tropes and themes-magic, riddles, a quest, and even a night at a museum-for the entertaining story of 10-year-old Stuart Horten (often nicknamed “Shorten” for his small stature) who stumbles into a family mystery when he and his parents move to the small British town of Beeton. There, Stuart discovers that his Great-Uncle Tony Horten, who disappeared years ago without a trace, was both an inventor of mechanical devices and a magician. A chance phone call in a broken phone booth is the first step in a journey that leads Stuart around town, as he unearths his great-uncle's legacy and secrets. Stuart also draws the attention of April, May, and June (the journalistically inclined triplets next door), as well as Beeton residents with more sinister intentions. Evans has crafted an old-fashioned mystery of the kids-besting-clueless-adults variety. Stuart's dweeby parents are particularly hapless (his father, a crossword puzzle creator, regularly drops lines like “Behold, I bring hydration for your powwow”). First published in the U.K., Evans's story leaves the door open for the sequel due in September.” --Publishers Weekly

“Stuart is a likable, plucky little guy, the Charlie Bucket to great-uncle Tony's Willy Wonka…The elements of magical realism that waft through the narrative keep things humming along nicely. This British import, long listed for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, leaves the door ajar for more adventures.” --Booklist
 

“Small Stuart embarks on an awfully big adventure in this quirky puzzle-solving novel….Each more curious than the one before, the far-fetched solutions they require bring the book to a hugely satisfying conclusion.” --The Guardian

 “An adventure that will enthrall smaller people and the adults reading to them in equal measure.” --The Independent

“The action cracks along at a good pace and is a brilliant pre-teen magical mystery story.” --The Bookbag

“This story has time travel, dastardly villains, lots of machinery and some seriously good adventures!” --Fun Kids
 

Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Anyone up for a surreal adventure? Magical illusions, a long-lost great-uncle and irksome identical triplets combine to create a memorable experience for 10-year-old Stuart Horton. In this fast-paced novel, full of unexpected twists, turns and journeys to the past, young Stuart seeks his uncle's strange workshop, which may hold the secret to his own destiny. Fans of the Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events will eagerly follow the clues and figure out the puzzles along with Stuart—and breathe a sigh of relief at the satisfying ending. Look for the sequel, Horten's Incredible Illusions, this fall. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
Kirkus Reviews
Wacky, funny and ever so mysterious, this clever tale hits the ground running and never lets up. Very short 10-year-old Stuart Horten--S. Horten, get it?--thinks he's facing a long, boring summer when his parents pack the three of them up and move to his father's hometown as school lets out. His parents are a pleasantly oblivious pair: His mom is an unimaginative doctor, and his father designs crosswords for a living. (He joyfully tosses around hundred-dollar words like "prestidigitator" and "perambulation.") Stuart quickly discovers the long-abandoned home of his great uncle Teeny-Tiny Tony Horton, a famous magician who disappeared 50 years before, and the puzzle box left to his incurious father. Resourceful Stuart wants to learn more, but he's plagued by the girl next door, who's intently following him everywhere. Just as a fabulous clue appears in a vandalized phone booth, the prying girl, April, shows up, and it turns out she's identical twins--oh, no! triplets--April, May and June. And they're shortly followed by the villainous, entrepreneurial Jeannie, hot on Stuart's heels. The pace is rapid, the clues to Tony's disappearance are intriguing and the characters are vividly--often hilariously--drawn. Irony runs hand in hand with just enough believable danger to create palpable tension. A vastly engaging, must-read mystery infused with the perfect touch of captivating conjuration--er, magic. (Mystery. 9-14)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Ten-year-old Stuart is unhappy about moving to a new town with his academic parents, especially the small British town of Beeton where his father grew up. But when he discovers a challenge in a note from the legendary Tony Horten, his magician great-uncle who disappeared years earlier, to find his hidden workshop of "miraculous mechanisms," the summer becomes an adventure. By finding Tony's hidden clues and following them on a sort of scavenger hunt to the past, Stuart dodges the nosy triplets next door, makes a friend, helps two sisters reunite, outwits a greedy villain, gets out of some dangerous scrapes, and inherits a magical legacy. Fans of mysteries, puzzles, and Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society (Little, Brown, 2007) will be happy to make Stuart's acquaintance, and they will look forward to the promised sequel.—Laurie Slagenwhite Walters, Peachtree Montessori International, Ann Arbor, MI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402798061
  • Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 203,823
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lissa Evans's route to children's fiction author is perhaps as roundabout as Stuart's adventures in Beeton. After a brief career as a doctor of medicine and then in stand-up comedy, Lissa became a comedy producer, first in radio and then in television, before turning to writing. She has penned books for adults as well as picture books for children. This is her first middle-grade novel. Lissa lives with her family in North London.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(15)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Work Of Art

    I really enjoyed this book. It is a magical blend of mystery and just the right amount of magical adventure to keep young readers and their parents glued to the pages. The thrills and action are age appropriate for preteen readers. An exceptionally short young boy named Stuart Horten is about to have a wonderful summer adventure. S.Horten's family moves back to the town where Stuart's uncle, Teeny Tiny Tony Horten once lived and worked as a magician. Stuart finds that Teeny Tiny Tony mysteriously disappeared some years ago. With the the help of April, May, and June, the identical and precocious triplets who live next door, Stuart follows magical clues left by Teeny Tiny Tony to hopefully solve the mystery of his missing uncle. Book provided for review by Sterling Children's Books.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 4, 2012

    i got an ARC of this book and it sat on my shelf for at least a

    i got an ARC of this book and it sat on my shelf for at least a month. I finally picked it up and kicked myself for not reading sooner. This was a quick light read that kept me entertained. Great for the 7-12 crowd but enjoyable for all ages.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Book Review (ARC) This was a pretty cute, quick read. I think th

    Book Review (ARC)
    This was a pretty cute, quick read. I think that a lot of children will really enjoy the story and the Indiana Jones like clues that Stuart has to follow in order to find out the mystery behind his great-uncle Tony’s disappearance. There are clear cut good and bad characters and kids will have an easy time following along with who they are rooting for and who to watch out for.

    I do wish there was more of the triplets from next door. They don’t show up in full force many times, but they were so entertaining I missed them when they weren’t around. One of the triplets was in the story more than the others and luckily she held her own! Overall younger kids will be able to grasp the storyline and enjoy the magic and mystery.

    Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    Amazing book

    This is a very suspensful book and has many adventures!
    If you like adventures thenREAD THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Love this book

    My nephew loves this book,it is a great mystery/novel like book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    Review1335012694237

    This is a really nice book!1335012694237

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2012

    I loved this book and more importantly so did my kids and the fr

    I loved this book and more importantly so did my kids and the friend's of my kids. It is so cute. A light, fun, but interesting read full of magic and just the right amount of wholesome adventure. You won't be disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2014

    O.my.gosh.THANK YOU SPENCER!!!

    I got introduced to this book this past year by my friend Spence.best book ever.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    This book was so cool

    I love the way the author wrote the book!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2014

    It is somewhat obvious that a 6 1/2 year old wouldn't fully appreciate

    the British language of this book. Best suited for children ages 9 and up.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2014

    Best book EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    When I read it its like im in the book. Great job

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  • Posted November 25, 2013

    Rating: 4 Stars I love children¿s books. I really, really do. My

    Rating: 4 Stars
    I love children’s books. I really, really do. My parents (and some of my classmates) tend to look at me strangely when I whip out a MG book for some light reading, but I really do love reading them. After all, these were the books that cultivated my love of reading at an early age and some of the better, more imaginative books I have read were MG. With that said, I am proud to say that I loved HORTON’S MIRACULOUS MECHANISMS.
    The story is extremely well developed and the author definitely knows her audience! I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to go on a scavenger hunt of a lifetime that’s filled with magic (real and show-businessy magic) and riddles all wrapped with clues from history! [To be honest, I kind of figured out the climax and resolution halfway through, but I like to think that it's because of all the books I've read as a child until now... I doubt any of its intended audience will be able to catch on as quickly :p ]
    When I read the summary, I was expecting something more BENEDICT’S in terms of clues and riddles but the scavenger hunt was as straight-forward as it could possibly get. That’s the reason why I had to dock it half a point. The joy that comes from reading a mystery book comes from being able to (or, at least, trying to) figure out the clues yourself.
    Another reason why I had to dock it another half a star was that I felt the book itself was too short. It didn’t give enough time for the characters to fully develop in my mind, especially April. When she and her sisters were first introduced, I pretty much mentally listed all the stereotypical ways that the author might have demonstrated their friendship to Horten, but I enjoyed the way she approached their relationship.
    However, I really wished that April was integrated into the story earlier since the book itself was really short to begin with. I felt as though she wasn’t given the time to fully develop as a character and, rather, was mainly there for the purpose of getting Horton out of sticky situations.
    Regardless, this book was a very pleasant read and it was easy for me to disappear into the world and follow Horton along with his hunt.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2013

    The Title is NO LIE

    Can not and will not put it down.

    The mystery, suspense, and even a bit of comedy really drags readers in.

    Any reader would love this!

    It is 100% worth the $8 you are probably about to spend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    very much enjoyed!

    very much enjoyed!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    Great

    About the 3rd best book ive read in my 10 years in this world
    (Thats saying a lot, im in the highest reading group at school. I read a lot :D)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    The British writing style is not best suited for an American child.

    I read the first two chapters (about 30-pages) aloud to my 6-1/2 year old nephew and 8-1/2 year old niece. The story had not yet reached any "hook" in the plot, so it somewhat lost the kids' attention, although they were still willing to try again later. (Note that I have a rather good reputation for reading aloud to children, including changing voices for the characters, reading slowly and expressively, etc., so I don't think I was the cause of the problem.) Besides the slowly developing plot (from a kid's perspective at least), the language, phrases, and even sentence structure was noticeably British. (I Googled the author after the fact, and she is indeed British.) I had to stop to explain several words and phrases, and eventually resorted to just replacing some words as I read. I think this idiom issue was a more critical problem for the kids. It made it hard to follow the characters' conversation and meanings. So the storyline was that much harder to pick up. As an adult or young adult, I could see that this could be an interesting quick read, assuming you enjoy parsing out the language and cultural novelties. Personally, I do, so I may read it myself later, but I won't push it on the young kids.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2012

    this book was really great with a lot of mysterious factors to i

    this book was really great with a lot of mysterious factors to it. I really would recommend it !

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Great loved it!!!!!!!!!

    First book in series well worth it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    Good read

    Quick good read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent MG read, short and fun

    Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth or Coraline where a young person manages to find his or her way into some wonderful and magical adventure where anything – especially that of an unexpected nature – can happen. This was a charming yet awfully short read, and I loved watching Stuart try to decipher his uncle’s encrypted messages and learn about his family legacy in magic-making. I also enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Horten’s quirks, especially Mr. Horten’s crossword-inventing self that would thrown in the most random of comments. I did wish that the book had spent more time on expanding on the minor characters, especially the triplets, because they came onto the page with all sorts of interesting things to say, but then left shortly without really getting too embroiled in Stuart’s adventure. Overall though, Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms can be a wonderful discovery for a young reader with a big imagination and a love for all things fantastic.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews

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