The Vanishing Trick – Jenni Spangler

This is one incredible read, which from the very first paragraph of the very first chapter immerses you amongst the story with an immediate sense of familiarity to the characters and location through the unbelievable attention to detail this book has instore for its readers. Fans of magic and mystery are in for an unforgettable reading experience with this utterly stunning middle grade title from Jenni Spangler.

Leander (what a name!) is an orphan trying to survive from day to day following the recent death of his mother, trying to do so in a law abiding way, stealing with a conscience! He is such a heartwarming character to become acquainted with throughout this book, especially at the start. It really is a huge relieve when Leander denys Madame Pinchbeck the opportunity to purchase from him his last possession, a locket given to him by his mum in her final days. Their encounter was most unexpected but at the same time seems as though fate had always intended it to happen, that can be left for the reader to decide, but there is definitely something about this lady that doesn’t feel right, whilst her actions seem kind and honourable her demeanor is questionable.

Whilst initial thoughts lead you to believe Madame Pinchbeck to be a fortune teller it appears she travels from town to town conjuring spirits from the dead for those who can afford it, longing to speak with lost loved ones once again. Leander is one of those as he misses his mother terribly, so when there is promise of the opportunity to do so he hands over his locket to Madame Pinchbeck, and in doing so changes his life in that instant, finding himself bound to Pinchbeck, his fate entwined with two other childrens.

Charlotte and Felix are introduced to Leander, the two other children in Pinchbecks household that willingly handed over their own respective possession to her in similar circumstances to Leanders, attracted to the promises the conjurer made of adventure and protection, and trapping them the moment they relinquish their item to her. Each item Pinchbeck is handed by the children becomes their cabinet she can summon them from and lock them away inside of in an instant. Leander made a huge mistake entrusting this lady, and while that sinks in for him the trio become aware of a huge issue that has arisen from their being an addition to the household.

It seems that the burden of another child held captive (along with their cabinet to be summoned from) weighs heavily on Pinchbeck and their are signs that her health is failing as a consequence, and knowing from previously that it is only a matter of time before one of the three children will be disowned and destroyed and with uncertainty as to who will suffer such an awful fate the trio work together to try to win back their freedom, end the ordeal of belonging to a woman who evidently is only ever concerned about her status amongst those with money and power, and find those that care for them again. There is so much at stake if they fail, yet so much to gain if they succeed, so with that thought spurring them on the children embark on a plan that utilises the skills each of them has.

There is an incredible sense of urgency as you read this story with tension building throughout and so many fantastic twists that you do not see coming either, all of which make this an unforgettable read that will captivate the reader from the very start. The book features illustrations from the hugely talented Chris Mould – just look at that cover design depicting the children in a supernatural sort of way – exactly how you might envisage them when reading, and giving you a glance at the heart of this books story of three stolen children held between worlds scared and alone, and yet they are brave and courageous with a determination to be there for each other no matter what.

Readers will relate to the characters they embark on the unforgettable journey held within the pages of this book with, and this helps make the experience all the more personal to them as they do so. Reading this book does take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, fear is one of them – especially when you get to read of seances and supernatural disturbances, which will ensure this book is popular with this generation of children’s book readers as they ask routinely for books featuring Spooky, Scary, and Supernatural, of which this book has all three. Librarians be warned, this book will be recommended from one child to another and it will be years before you see this book again, so not only would I recommend multiple copies being purchased but I would also suggest reading this title ahead of the children – which is possible in the current lockdown climate.

How to conclude this blog. I can only hope I have done justice to this incredible book by the hugely talented Jenni Spangler, and without giving away any big spoilers either! I was glued to this book from the first few pages of reading, and I genuinely hope there is more to come featuring these characters from this author (Hint Hint) because I know that will be the first question children will ask once they have finished reading The Vanishing Trick.

The Vanishing Trick is published by Simon and Schuster on 30th April 2020.

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