The Vanishing Trick is a Victorian-based adventure full of magic, folklore and mystery written by Jenni Spangler and illustrated by Chris Mould.
Since being orphaned, Leander has had to fend for himself and get food from where he can. One day he meets Madame Pinchbeck, who offers him a home and a job in return for the only thing he has left in the world – his Mother’s locket. But he soon finds himself trapped in the locket, to be summoned and vanished by Pinchbeck as part of an entertainment show. He also finds that he is not the only captured child. Can Charlotte, Felix and Leander break the spell and release themselves before one of them vanishes forever and what other mysterious might they uncover?
This book is based in the Victorian era and would be a great class read for upper KS2 studying that period, as it contains lots of historical detail. It could also form part of a class collection, alongside Dickens and Leon Garfield or on the class bookshelf alongside The Violet Veil Mysteries or Catherine Brunton’s Another Twist in the Tale.
The book is written from the point of view of different characters, signalled by the name at the beginning of the section, and this helps develop the narrative and develop the characters. This book could also be used to demonstrate good characterisation, especially the descriptions of the villainous Madame Pinchbeck.
The story is dark at times, but pupils would find it an exhilarating adventure and full of page-turning moments. I also found it interesting against the backdrop of the Victorian interest in spirits, ghosts and seances and emerging techniques of photography. I would recommend this book; a fascinating idea and would encourage confident readers to try a different genre.
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