#52 The Vanishing Trick by Jenni Spangler

tep into a world of secrets, folklore and illusions, where nothing is as it seems and magic is at play…
Madame Augustina Pinchbeck, travels the country conjuring the spirits of dearly departed loved ones… for a price. Whilst her ability to contact ghosts is a game of smoke and mirrors, there is real magic behind her tricks too – if you know where to look.
Through a magical trade, she persuades children to part with precious objects, promising to use her powers to help them. But Pinchbeck is a deceiver, instead turning their items into enchanted Cabinets that bind the children to her and into which she can vanish and summon them at will.
When Pinchbeck captures orphan Leander, events are set into motion that see him and his new friends Charlotte and Felix, in a race against time to break Pinchbeck’s spell, before one of them vanishes forever…

Paperback | 304 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK (30 April 2020)

Target Audience: 8 years and up

This was one of my many ‘impulse buys’. I got it from Waterstones in May, during lockdown. You know when a book just captivates you with its blurb? I felt that thrill with this book. I find debuts either hit or miss, but, four chapters in I’m happy to report this is a hit!

o problems. What’s written is very interesting as it is quite easy to understand and follow along. The characters stood out for me and really drove the storyline forward.

Leander was such a wonderful character – even if my dyslexic brain changed the pronunciation of his name continually!! – There was something special about the boy who had nothing and a sense of deep determination to please those around him. Watching him come out of his shell and learn that he had more than he believe was one of those heart-warming moments. I could clearly see how much the characters of Charlotte and Felix meant to him and understood his actions throughout. He was very believable.

Charlotte did a good job of deceiving me. Her presence and personality fluxuated between states for much of the book, so I found it hard to get a real sense of her character. To understand her more, I started to view her through the eyes of Leander and Felix, which helped me to see who she truly was. Charlotte gained the most from this story, but she also learned the most.

Felix was the one that tugged on my heartstrings the most because he was the character who was the most innocent in his nature to believe and trust. Felix was less concerned about what they were doing and more concerned with keeping what he loved alive. His actions made for a compelling character and his arc through the story made his journey very real.

Stuck between magic and mystery, this was easy to visualise in great detail. A lot of work was put in to set the scene of this book and to place focus on those places most visited. The descriptions in this book were important and were reflected in my imagination of events.

I often think that debuts are like marmite. I love marmite but I’ve been burned by more than one debut. I tend to hold back now, and prefer to discover debuts alone and unclouded, rather than follow hype and recommendation. Waterstones has done a good job recently in recommending me books to read, this was an impulse buy, but I wouldn’t have noticed it if Waterstones hadn’t emailed me about it.

There was something delicious about this book and it captivated me from beginning to end. I felt that I was reading something that was unclouded by previous reads, meaning that it felt original and unique. It was such a combination of ideas and it played out quite splendidly through the words and characters. The inclusion of fairy-tale and folklore was an interesting touch and was definitely used in a way that I wasn’t expecting.

I found the magic element to be rewarding. I was invested in knowing the cause of that side of the story and recognise that the way the magic is written encourages the reader to be curious and create own thoughts. I thought this was a stunning debut and it has certainly piqued my interest in the author. I’ll be keeping an eye out for her future works.

I read this in 2.5 hours and I definitely came away with something from reading it. It’s a dark and stormy day here and getting steadily darker but this book transported me and lifted me into a more exciting time. There were some very clever moments in this book which I appreciated and some unexpected turns, which are always good. I was pleasantly surprised by this debut and with only 295 pages, it is a very captivating short read. I would greatly recommend you read this.

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