Young Harry Houdini spends his days chaining himself to train tracks and teetering on wires high above the city with his two best friends, Arthur and Billie. But when Harry's friend and magical mentor, Herbie, disappears, the three friends band together, determined to rescue the beloved magician.
With nothing more than a mysterious puff of purple smoke, an ominous threat, and a menacing Bulgarian for evidence, Harry, Arthur, and Billie embark on a dangerously thrilling investigation that pushes their skill, and friendship, to the limits. But can Harry find Herbie before it's too late?
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Mysterious, Exciting, and Dangerous Harry Houdini and his two best friends are starting to command a crowd for their escape acts. All's well until Harry's elderly mentor, Herbie, disappears in a cloud of purple smoke. Certain that Herbie is in danger, Harry is determined to find and rescue him even if it means risking his own life. I wasn't expecting much out of this book. While the cover is exciting, there's something about it that seems kind of predictable. But I was still looking forward to reading it because year after year, my 5th graders love Harry Houdini. Shortly into The Magician's Fire I was proven wrong. This book is fun, fast-paced, and well-written. Populated with magic tricks, illusions, sneaky villains, and death defying escapes, it was a really fun read. The level of character development (quite a bit for 3 primary and 2 secondary characters) and plot complexity (one straightforward tale with some twists) makes it a great selection for the middle grades. The use of the iconic figure of Harry Houdini will also make it a grabber for less-confident readers. Historical Fiction can be challenging for middle graders, but historic New York City was painted in clear details that made for a great backdrop. My only complaint is that I kept wondering how much of young Harry's story was based on fact. An author's note to this effect would have been a great addition. ** Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review **