Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms, a 5-Star Read

by Jennifer


Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, &  a Very Strange Adventure by Lissa Evans is a perfect example to me of what middle grade fiction is all about. It’s funny, adventurous, and doesn’t “talk down” to young readers. I was pretty sure I’d be adding it to our 5 Star Reads when I was only about 20 pages in.

Stuart Horten has to move away from the town he has lived in his entire life when his mom gets a new job. His dad can do his crossword puzzle writing job anywhere, so the family decides to move to Beeton, England, which happens to be where Stuart’s father grew up. He’s not happy about it at all, and everyone knows that the beginning of summer is the worst time for a 10-year-old to move, because it’s hard to get to know people.

The triplets next door — April, May, and June — are more nosy nuisances than friend material, but they don’t give up in trying to find out everything about Stuart, so they can publish it in their homemade local newspaper.

Stuart finds a mysterious clue in a family artifact of his father’s.  The clue was left to his father from his famous magician uncle (who mysteriously disappeared one day), but his father never found it, because he must not have been the “right kind of boy.”

I have to go away, and I may not be able to get back. If I don’t return, then my workshop and all it contains is yours if you can find it — and if you can find it, then you’re the right sort of boy to have it.

I loved Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms most of all for the people: a brave, imperfect hero, a determined young girl, a greedy villain, a sweet old woman, quirky parents. The story is fun, but the characters made the story sing.

The book stands well on it’s own (no cliffhanger ending), but because I loved the first book so much, I am thrilled to know there is a second book coming out in September: Horten’s Incredible Illusions: Magic, Mystery & Another Very Strange Adventure (you can preorder now on amazon or Barnes and Noble). I happen to have an advanced copy in my hands, so look for a review at the end of August!

And I’m happy to be able to offer a giveaway copy of Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms to one of you. Just leave a comment if you know a 3rd – 6th grader who’d enjoy this book (or if you yourself are charmed by this type of story). We’ll announce the winner in our giveaway column on August 1. The giveaway is closed.

The winner of Rules of Civility is #36 Ed Nemmers.

This book reminds me of other delightful 5 Star Reads

(OR if you like them, you’ll like this one too)

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Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer

Jennifer lives in Houston with her family. In addition to reading, she enjoys travel, Bible study, food, and fun. She blogs about some of these things -- when her nose isn't in a book -- at Snapshot.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dawn July 18, 2012 at 8:46 am

I just checked this out of the library yesterday per your recommendation. I told JAM he has to wait for me to read it before it goes on his shelf. :)
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2 Jennifer July 18, 2012 at 9:35 am

I can’t wait to hear what you BOTH think of it! Kyle is a young 8, and it’s totally within his high-reading level ability, but I’m not sure if I can sell him on it yet. He read the first short chapter and told me it was “boring,” but then he chuckled twice when he was reading the 2nd chapter, so I’m going to make him read a 3rd chapter sometime. If that still doesn’t grab him, I’ll have him wait 6 months.
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3 Dawn July 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Okay, I simply adored it. It will be a quick read for my just-about-12 year old, but I do think he will enjoy the storyline, so I hope he wants to borrow it next.
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4 Jennifer July 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Yay!! Glad to hear that someone else can back up my thoughts. I actually think that Amanda (almost 14) will enjoy it too. She recently re-read the MBS books.
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5 Anne July 18, 2012 at 10:00 am

What a wonderful book. Perfect. Many thanks.


6 Sandra July 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

My son would absolutely love this book. I homeschool and have been putting together our curriculum for next year and this would be a perfect complement to our other books. Thanks for giving this recommendation.


7 riTa July 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Just talked to a missionary friend whose son would enjoy this type of book and is within the grade range you recommend.
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8 Lisa July 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I can’t wait to read this book!


9 Katrina July 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Always looking for another great middle grade novel. (Mostly for me!) Thanks for this review!
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10 Amy July 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

This sounds fabulous!
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11 AZ July 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm

We’ll keep our eyes open for it! Thanks for the chance to win :)


12 Angel S. July 18, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Sounds perfect for my 10 year old!


13 Kimberly July 19, 2012 at 7:15 am

My daughter loves books like this. She is an avid reader going into 4th grade this year. She tends to steer away from books that are too girly, she loves stories like this.
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14 Jessica T July 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm

This would get my son reading!


15 marni baggett July 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm

i know a certain 6th grader that would love it!


16 Beth C July 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I have a 5th grade granddaughter who would love this! Thanks!


17 Margaret July 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm

My adughter would love this one. Thanks for the giveaway!



18 Barb: 1SentenceDiary July 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm

My daughter is making her way through the MBS books and loving them (and I loved them too) but they are a bit long and intimidating for her. This sounds like a perfect book for when she wants to take a break from the MBS.


19 Natalia July 25, 2012 at 1:13 am

My daughter will love this book!


20 Staci A July 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm

My little guy is going into 3rd grade and this looks like it would be a great book to share with him. Thanks for the chance to enter!


21 Jen August 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Bought this on your recommendation and really enjoyed it. I’ve passed it down to son #1, who also loved it. Now onto son #2….I always enjoy stories that take you somewhere entirely new and this one did. Thanks for the recommendation!


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