Cover Image: The Vanishing Trick

The Vanishing Trick

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Member Reviews

A hugely exciting novel based around the disappearance of children and the mysterious Madame Pinchbeck. The thrilling story follows the ordeals of Leander, Charlotte and Felix as they manage life as a trio, under the "care" of Madame Pinchbeck, but all is not as it seems. With the magical ability to transport/be transported into 'Cabinets', the group travel the country performing séances, trying to convince unwitting participants of Pinchbeck's ability. As time goes on, the group begins to fracture and unravel before coming to a tumultuous climax.
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A spooky, mysterious adventure with a truly wicked baddie and three heroic children who save the day.  The story captures the dark and dangerous world of Victorian England beautifully.
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Initially I was provided an ARC by the publisher via netgalley. I appologise for not reading this. I have just finished the copy I preordered along with the audiobook. 

The plot and atmosphere in this story was so believable. Leander who we meet first has such an optimistic outlook. It does not take long before we meet Felix and Charlotte. All heroes in the making and it was a joy to watch them grow, shine and become a family despite all odds. Our villain Madame Pinchbeck keeps you on your toes, even sometimes wondering if she really is bad. The magic used is something I have never seen before and really was intriguing. I have to say I enjoyed every page and this really is a well rounded story. 

I read along in the book whilst listening to the audiobook and this is another outstanding performation/narration by Nicky Diss who is fast becoming one of my favourite children's narrators.
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Loved this. Kept me intrigued from beginning to end. Great characters and liked that it was set local to me too. I’m sure kids will love this as much as this big kid did :)
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I received this arc from NetGalley and Simon and Schuster in return for an honest review. 

This was a beautifully creepy, touching story that had me on the edge of my seat throughout.

The story is set in a Victorianesque England: the rich live in grand houses with servants and libraries teeming with books; the poor stuggle to survive, often having to steal food and running the risk of being caught or sent to the workhouse. Leander is one of these unfortunates. An 11-year-old orphan, all alone in the world since his mother died and desperate for somewhere to belong.

When Leander meets Madame Pinchbeck he is deceived by her offer of food, shelter and the possibility that she can communicate with those in the spirit world. He joins her after being persuaded to part with a precious object and only then does he learn about her sinister vanishing trick and the real truth behind the bargin he has made. Along with his new friends Charlotte and Felix, Leander must discover the secrets behind Madame Pinchbeck's magic before it is too late...

This held my interest from beginning to end. Madame Pinchbeck is a wonderfully scary villain and I was contstantly afraid for Leander, wondering what might happen next. I loved the friendship that developed between the three children and it was so exciting to follow their adventure and uncover clues to solve the mystery. The atmosphere and setting were brilliantly created. It felt like you could just step into the pages of this book and find yourself in its grim and sinster world - I was very happy to be curled up in the warmth drinking hot chocolate as I read along!

I would highly recommend this book to readers aged 8+ who love stories with a creepy, gothic atmosphere, danger and magic.
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What a deliciously dark and twisting story!  This is one that will remain with me for a while.  I raced through this because I just absolutely had to know what was going to happen next.  Leander, who falls under Pinchbeck’s spell, is so trusting to begin with and I felt for him with his mother.  I caught on reasonably quickly about Charlotte and it was interesting to see how the others interacted with her, knowing who she was.  However, it was Felix that really caught me.  He was so torn throughout the story and it was truly devastating for him.  Pinchbeck was a completely creepy and twisted villain who fascinated and intrigued me.  I wanted to know more and to understand the nature of her magic and she was what made this book truly unputdownable.
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A brilliant unusual book that kept my 11yo daughter engaged and entertained with a story that was unusual and unpredictable. She loved the writing and the premises and she said she would happily recommend this book to her friends.
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A dark, creepy and unsettling delight! This is a perfect read for young people in years 5-8 who loved Neil Gaiman's 'The Graveyard Book' and 'Coraline'. Set in the Victorian Era, the book starts off with Leander, an orphan who lives truly hand-to-mouth. A chance meeting with the mysterious Madame Pinchbeck offers Leander a chance at survival - by unwittingly agreeing to be captured by her and kept as a prisoner. Leander finds two other children she has kidnapped, Felix and Charlotte, who have been held captive for years. It's only together they may finally find a way of breaking free.
The result is a compelling and eerie folktale that is utterly spellbinding. The book doesn't shy away from the dark side of the Victorian Era and also serves as an excellent examination of the various divisions within society at that time. A perfect recommendation for the miniature spook in your life!
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This book was refreshingly different than a lot of the new publishing for this age group. The plot skipped along at a pace that will engage young readers and the characters were fun and the magical plot-devices interesting. I particularly enjoyed the villainess who managed to be both appealing and terrifying at the same time. Although the book is set in the Victorian period and features orphans and stolen children it is never mawkish or sentimental for the sake of it. My 11 year old son read this in one go, staying up until 2am to finish it and he's a difficult reader to please!
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Wow what a book! 
So fresh and something different to read. The imagination of playing with magic and slightly dark too had me gripped and wanting to read more! 
Anyone who is a fan of magic will enjoy this book.
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An exceptionally atmospheric and well-written historical tale. The magical elements are well thought out and developed and Pinchpeck is a delightfully dark and dastardly villain! I read this aloud to my 8 year old son at bedtime and it reads aloud very well; it's also hard to read just one chapter because many of them end of a cliffhanger and who can resist the plea "Just one more chapter?"!

It's an extremely accomplished debut and I will be keen to read whatever Spangler writes next!
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A fantastic story with the most sinister of dastardly villains in the shape of Madame Pinchbeck. Just Brilliant! The combined efforts of the children to stay together as a family were courageous and inspired. A book full to the brim with dark magic that is ultimately defeated by love.
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What a brilliant read!  I thought it was a really original idea.  Set in Victorian England, I loved the atmosphere the author created; the spookiness of it all.  The characters were so well drawn and in Madame Pinchbeck we have a baddie of fairy-tale proportions!  It is a wonderful adventure, and one that I strongly recommend.
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A smashing page turner. I loved this book so much (even though I'm way too old for it). Beautifully written, it has everything you could want in a magical, historical, adventure.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and to the publisher for allowing me to read a copy of this lovely book in exchange for an honest review.
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The Vanishing Trick is spooky, historical and magical in equal parts. I'd seen this recommended on Twitter by many other book bloggers and it certainly lived up to my expectations.

Set in the Victorian era it follows the journey of Leander, an orphan and thief, trying to survive amongst the richest of the world. When he encounters the magical Madame Pinchbeck he is offered the chance of communicating with his dead mother, food and a sense of belonging and it takes very little for Leander to be persuaded into joining in return for his precious locket. However, Pinchbeck is not as as she seems and Leander soon realises that he is trapped inside his own locket and now at the beck and call of Pinchbeck who can summon and vanish him at will. 

Leander soon realises he is not the only child Pinchbeck has trapped as he meets the moody, upper-class Charlotte and violin-playing Felix, they too, trapped by Pinchbeck's magic. Together they travel around the country, taking part in Pinchbeck's money-making seance schemes, but it doesn't take them long to discover that Pinchbeck is conjuring an even bigger trick which could risk them losing their lives. 

The Vanishing Trick really gripped me from the start and I loved how Pinchbeck was portrayed - a classic villain who physically becomes weaker as the plot moves on. Watching Leander, Felix and Charlotte realise that their fate was unknown was a brilliant story arc and I felt a real sense of peril throughout - building particularly well in the final few chapters when there was so much action and reliance on outside characters. The concept of the cabinets in which the children could disappear to was novel and exciting and I could imagine it so vividly that I would love to see a film adaptation of this book - something I say so rarely! 

The Vanishing Trick is a perfect UKS2 read, I know I'll be recommending it to our Year 5 teachers as a brilliant class novel alongside their Victorian topic. It's certainly a good choice for those tricky customers who love a thriller and a bit of mystery in their reading book. 

A combination of trickery, magic and peril with a traditional villain that pounces through the pages.
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This is one of the most original books I have read for this age group in some time.

It starts with orphaned Leander who has to steal to survive . He is an Artful Dodger type figure. He falls in with the mysterious Madame Pinchbeck who seems to offer him some security and comfort.

Her "trade" is holding seances to speak to the dead and she has two other "helpers". Charlotte is from a different background and is initially "prcikly" towards him (there is a good reason why she is)  Felix with his extraordinary violin playing is more open. Where and how do they disappear?
Is Madame Pinchbeck all she appears? Are the seances genuine?

The characters are nuanced and have conflicts within them to solve. Felix is grateful to Pinchbeck for giving him the opportunity to look for his brother. but will this change? Leander doesn't want to carry on stealing but this is the nearest to a family he has got. Charlotte is initially hostile as she knows that Pinchbeck doesn't  have enough "resources " to sustain 3 of them.

There is fast moving plot which builds up to a thrilling ending tying together the plot lines of the different characters working independently. You are kept guessing about the relevance of the Fairy Tale book, but clues are there to pick up.

The chapter headings are linked to Tarot cards. This feature and the seances may not appeal to some readers who have strict views on the occult.

For everyone else I thought this was highly original and entertaining . It certainly kept me engrossed
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Dark, mysterious, captivating… The Vanishing Trick pulled me in from the very first moment Leander spotted the strange, black carriage and met the eerie Madame Pinchbeck. “It wasn’t a sin to steal if you only took forgotten things” and this lost, forgotten, empty boy needs nothing more than to belong – to someone, to something. All he has is his mother’s locket and the memory of happier times. Perhaps this new, intensely unusual group of people will become the family he so desperately longs for.

“If honesty and hunger have been in constant competition for his soul”, they may both be defeated by the clairvoyant Madame Pinchbeck as she tricks him into giving her everything. Leander is so eager to prove himself to be trustworthy and capable that he risks losing himself in the process.  It is only once it seems to be too late that Leander realises what he has gotten himself into. With his companions, Charlotte and Felix, he battles through lies, hopelessness and darkness to find truth. Together they press on through a magical trap, never giving up and growing closer in the process.

The Vanishing Trick is an absolute triumph of a story for children and adults alike. The sense of hope, determination and teamwork shown by the three children is a magnificent model of resilience and bravery for anyone facing a situation in which there seems to be no way out. The Victorian ambiance and Dickensian feel add so much to the atmosphere as the children have no where else to turn. Their dedication to an evil mistress mirrors Fagin and his boys in Oliver Twist –tempted to feel sorry for the villain yet bolstered by an undeniable sense of what is right.

This is a book with an intriguing secret which only reading will reveal. Explore the darkness to find the light – just don’t get caught with The Vanishing Trick!

Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK Children’s & NetGalley for this fantastic book!
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This was a wonderful read, the three main characters are ones you are completely behind. Each comes from different backgrounds and have different skills they can use to help each other through their shared peril. It is a heartwarming story overall mixed in with magic and excitement, with a little bit of suspense but it is one that you will become enthralled in and won't want it to finish.
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This was a different book than I expected it to be. Although I have tried out quite a few children/middle-grade books before, there was probably only one other in this specific genre. It borders on Horror in the sense that there is bad magic including villains of that particular ilk.

The copy I read did not have any illustrations. If it did, I might have rated it higher, but for the most part, it was interesting to read. It has three distinct narrators, each with a different background, outlook on life and zeal for the future. Each was unique, which would have been hard to do given the circumstances, and they all have their quirks. We have Leander who has just run away from the only home he remembers into greater danger. This greater danger is explained to him by Charlotte and Felix, who have been around longer and seen more. The arrival of Leander seems to help bring a change into how they see things. As an adult, a few of the twists were pretty obvious, but I think children would not see it coming. There is an ominous atmosphere throughout with seances and the aforementioned bad magic. The sense of desperation permeates well, but at its end, it is a story of the triumph of good over evil, and all the loose ends are tied up well.

I would recommend it to people who like reading ‘different’ middle-grade books, and since I haven’t tested it out on someone of the target age, I can only leave it to their adults to decide.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley, and the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
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This utterly mesmerising tale ensnared me like a willing moth to a flame and held me in its dark enchantment from start to finish. The mystery, magic, superstition and unexpected twists are perfectly cloaked in a richly portrayed Victorian society with fascinating characters who grabbed my attention from the opening.

Leander has recently been orphaned and is finding his new life a real struggle, sometimes having to resort to stealing in order to stave off his desperate hunger.  After one such theft, he finds himself running from his pursuer and, eager to escape, discovers a rather unusual carriage – and the enigmatic Madame Pinchbeck.  She offers to help him by buying his mother’s locket but, after an intriguing warning, he refuses to sell it.  

Dire circumstances, however, lead him back to Madame Pinchbeck.  She preys on his desire to speak to his mother again, telling him that she can make his dearest wish come true as she is a medium.  Unable to resist and desperate for some kindness, Leander hands over his most precious possession, and finds himself cruelly caught by Pinchbeck’s magical ability.  Too late, he realises that he has made a terrible mistake, and finds himself vanished into his mother’s locket which is now his prison (known as a ‘cabinet’) where a piece of his soul has been trapped, leaving him vulnerable and at the mercy of Madame Pinchbeck.

Leander is not the only child trapped by this dark magic.  He soon meets Charlotte and Felix who apprise him of his new situation.  They are inextricably bound to Madame Pinchbeck who uses them as part of her act to trick her rich Victorian clients during seances.  So begins an incredibly atmospheric, tension-filled, dark and dangerous tale as the children race to escape from the clutches of Madame Pinchbeck before one of them might disappear forever …

Oh my goodness!  I was instantly captured by the absorbing plot which is enticingly intricate and intriguing and so very, very clever!  My heart was racing as I turned the pages to find out how all the layers were woven together and I was not disappointed.  I don’t want to go into details for fear of giving away spoilers but, suffice to say, this is a story that will take you on an enthralling and sinister adventure, revealing secrets, twists and shocks galore along the way.  I am in awe of how all the threads in this story came together so perfectly and with such heart-warming satisfaction. 

The Victorian setting for the story is richly imagined with its portrayal of the lives of the rich and poor in society and its dual fascination with  spiritualism and technology, both used to sinister effect by Madame Pinchbeck.  
What can I say about Madame Pinchbeck?  She is a deliciously dark and complex villain who appears sugary sweet in her fake sincerity on the outside in order to ensnare her victims, but has an insidious darkness inside:  vengeful, sinister and hungry for riches and fame.  She is a child snatcher on par with the Pied Piper of Hamelin and the Child Catcher.  

The three children, Leander, Charlotte and Felix, are incredibly endearing and courageous.  They are all suffering from heart-breaking loss, are desperately searching for something which is precious to them and, having found each other, come to develop wonderfully sincere friendships full of trust, loyalty and love.  They work as a team in order to survive, supporting and helping each other despite the great risks they take and their terror of their captor.  My heart broke for them, but was also filled with warmth as I understood that, even in their moments of greatest danger, they would never give up on each other.  

The Vanishing Trick is an utterly gripping mystery brimming with peril, eeriness and spine-tingling darkness, but also with friendship, warmth and hope.  This really is a must-read which I cannot recommend highly enough. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for an e-ARC of this story in exchange for my honest opinion.
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