THE GREATEST MAGICIAN - THE PREQUEL
A convention for magicians! The perfect annual event for every magical family! Except for someone like Jack Roberts.
His mother is The Great Linda, a woman who can’t die. His dad has the power to heal. His sister can bend people to her will. But Jack has no such magic up his sleeve. He’s about as ordinary as can be. In fact, the annual Magicians’ Convention is the very last place on Earth he wants to hang out.
Then Jack discovers there might be a way for him to gain magic after all.
How far will Jack go in his desperate quest for magic? And who can he trust?
See where it all began in The Greatest Magician, a prequel following the adventures of young Jack and his family years before the events of The Magicians’ Convention (book 1).
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Author Elena Paige brings the incredible world of magic to life in this very modern and enjoyable fantasy tale.
The novella works really well as a stand-alone story and an introduction to the magical concepts of Paige’s worldbuilding, and it also gives a great profile of our young hero Jack and his magical family.
Exciting, atmospherically written and filled with great messages amid its twisting, turning plot, The Greatest Magician is a highly recommended introduction to an enthralling magical series and the works of a great author who knows her audience really well.
While fans of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Charlie Bones Series, or the Ahstown Burials would most certainly enjoy this book, The Greatest Magician stands on its own in originality.
Writing for an audience of middle-grade readers, Elena Paige establishes rules for the world of magic that are relatively simple with definite limitations. In a genuinely imaginative and, dare I say, magical way, the reader learns how these rules function through Jack's observations and various encounters with multiple characters, both good and bad, throughout the story.
In a mostly plot-driven story, Jack eventually faces the ultimate showdown and must learn to rely on his wits and bumblings with magic to overcome the bad guys.
Timothy R Baldwin
The Greatest Magician by Elena Paige is a rollercoaster of adventure filled with exciting plot twists and turns and revelations I did not expect.
The characters are superbly created and although I did not see any relevance to the existence of some of the characters when they first appear, all becomes clear as the story progresses. The relationships between the characters develop gradually and realistically.
This is definitely a story about complex family dynamics and the revelation of secrets. There are also amazing areas of conflict that uncovered so many engaging layers to the plot. I feel this is a definite stand-alone read and adults, as well as young teenagers, will enjoy this book. It teaches values and principles in a subtle but powerful way.
The Greatest Magician by Elena Paige is an adventure-filled, fast-paced read.
The detailed descriptions of the characters and setting painted pictures in my mind and made the book almost impossible to put down.
I liked how the multiple themes of the book are also life lessons: the importance of friendship, forgiveness, perseverance, and bravery. The theme of “be careful who you trust” is also emphasized throughout the book.
I would recommend The Greatest Magician to readers ages 9 - 14, especially those who love magic and fantasy.
Hawkreader10 - Age 14
Elena Paige’s story is a fast-paced adventure through a world of magic.
Filled with imagination and unexpected surprises, The Greatest Magician is far from boring. Given its simple structure and yet limited implications of violence, I would recommend this book for sixth and seventh graders.
While I enjoyed the page-turner nature of this fantasy story, sometimes the characters’ decisions were too hasty or unrealistically extreme. I was occasionally lost in the objectives of even the main character at times. But the plot-twists are original and creative, making The Greatest Magician a completely new adventure that was a genuine joy to read.
AveryTodd4 - Age 16
The tall, lean man held his face in his hands. “How could you do this to me?”
As his knees hit the pristine polished floorboards, his tears followed suit. He felt his beating heart slow down from the pain and anguish in his chest. He was the greatest magician of all time. He had everything. Fame. Fortune. Freedom. Yet in this moment he felt hollow inside.
He willed himself up, knocking over the long, black sculpture on the glass coffee table beside him. It startled him out of his thoughts. He doubled back and caught the statue before it hit the floor. As he cleared the lump in his throat, he moved his trembling fingers up and down the cold statue. Hands outstretched, the statue of the magician looked back at him, so proud and happy. It was a replica of himself, and yet he felt nothing like the statue he was holding. It took all his strength to look back up. “Why?” he whispered, barely parting his lips, now wet with tears.
“This is so typical of you, Jack,” his wife said. “Always making everything about you. I’m finally doing what makes me happy.”
He felt the emptiness of his wife’s words strike him, like a slap to the face.
“Just tell me why! You at least owe me that!” he yelled. He could feel himself shaking from the inside out.
“You never have time for me and Toby. You’re always too busy being the famous magician,” said Agatha. She took a few defiant steps away from him and crossed her arms.
Jack’s emotions threatened to drown him. “And if I give up being a magician?” It took all his strength to force the words out. “Will you stay then?” He placed the statue he was holding back on the glass table, simultaneously taming his internal shaking.
“No,” she said, raking her long black hair with her fingers. “It’s too late. You love magic more than me. I know that now.” She took a few steps toward him, reaching her hand out. Her face looked softer than her harsh words. “I’m sorry. I tried, but it’s too late.”
Jack watched through blurred vision as she moved toward the front door of their apartment. She hesitated, wiping her glistening green eyes. “Goodbye, Jack.”
“Agatha!” called Jack. He fell to his knees again as the door slammed shut. His intake of breath was so sharp his lungs ached. But before the full impact of his grief could be felt, he spluttered in shock. The front door of his apartment opened once more, letting in a gust of air.
Expecting it to be Agatha returned, he lost his balance and fell backward onto the black leather couch. He scanned the room. There was no one there. “Is that you, Agatha?” he called. He hoped she had changed her mind. But the door hung open wistfully with no one in sight.
His eyes darted nervously to the large floor-to-ceiling window that spanned the entire space of the room. It was dark outside now, and the city lights shone through his high-rise apartment. The hairs on his neck prickled. Someone had entered the room. He could feel it. He willed himself up, walked toward the door, and slammed it.
“Who are you, and what do you want?” he said, looking into the empty space.
But it didn’t remain empty for long.
Jack covered his mouth. His eyes grew wide. He swallowed deeply. A boy, no older than ten, began appearing out of thin air. First his legs. Then his torso. And finally his freckled face and fire-red hair. Jack was no stranger to magic, yet it surprised him nonetheless.
“I’m sorry to bother you, sir. I didn’t know what else to do,” said the boy, breathing heavily.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” said Jack. He wiped the dried tears from his face and composed himself.
“I’m Rufus . . . Rufus Kirby.” His body tremored.
Jack squinted and pursed his lips as he heard the last name of the boy who stood before him. “What do you want here?”
“I have a letter. I think it’s written to your wife. I followed her here.” The boy held his hand out and offered the letter to Jack. His head hung low, and he avoided eye contact with him.
Jack felt his heart beat increase. A letter? He eyed the boy before him. Despite his young age, he was immaculately dressed. He looked genuine. Jack hesitated before he slowly took the letter and sat down on his sleek black sofa.
It was clearly addressed to Agatha Roberts. He turned it over. It was written by Alexander Kirby. He paused, biting his lip. He hadn’t seen Alexander in years. Not since he was a boy really. Nor had Agatha. Why was Alexander sending a letter to her? He looked up at Rufus, his eyes full of questions. “What is this letter about?”
“I think you ought to read it, sir. It’s about your wife, Agatha,” said the boy, half choking as he said the name.
Jack looked at the letter as though it were a wild animal about to bite. He paused, taking in a long breath. Bracing himself for the worst, he pulled the letter from the envelope, unfolding it. He read the words on the page greedily. Warmness rushed to his face. The severity of the words affected him like a poison. As blood coursed to his head, he thought for a moment he might faint.
“Have you read this?” Jack breathed heavily, feeling only compassion for Rufus now. A ten-year-old ought to not have to read a letter like that from his own father, he thought. But his compassion was nothing compared to his rage.
“Yes, sir. I have,” said Rufus, still standing as tall and straight as a board.
“You’re absolutely sure your father wrote this?” He swallowed hard. “To my wife?”
“I’m sorry, sir. But I also need to save my mother. I brought it to you first. I thought it was the right thing to do,” said the boy, as his body partially disappeared.
Jack calmed himself a little. “Yes. Yes, thank you. You did the right thing. I will handle this.”
“Will you stop them? Stop them from killing people?” said Rufus. His body re-appeared fully and he stared down at the floorboards.
“I’m not sure if I can. But I’ll do my best.”
Jack closed his eyes, taking in all that had occurred on this day. His performance in front of the Queen Mother, who was visiting Australia, had been a complete failure. His wife was leaving him. She was planning to take their son, Toby, with her. But all of that was nothing compared to this.
“Rufus, before you go, here. Take this as a token of my gratitude.”
Jack pulled a silver coin from his pocket. He held it between the two palms of his hands and concentrated all his thoughts upon it. A warm, golden glow peeked out from his fingers. As he parted his hands, the coin was now glittering gold. He walked toward the door and handed it to Rufus. “If you have this in your pocket, you will be safe. And thank you.”
Rufus smiled up at him. He took the coin, opened the door, and headed for the elevator. As he pushed the button, he looked back at Jack. “You can still save her.”
He vanished slowly, from his feet all the way up to his head. As the elevator doors parted, Jack heard soft footsteps walk through the doors and disappear inside.
Jack took a moment to cradle the letter to his chest. He closed the apartment door and looked around the room. He had built this entire empire for her. Everything he had become was for her. Everything he had done was all for her. Now he was about to lose it all. He looked at the letter. It was a letter from Alexander to Agatha. He was professing his love for her, and warning her about impending explosions. She wasn’t just leaving Jack. She was leaving Jack for Alexander. His mind flashed images of when he had first met Agatha and Alexander so many years ago at his first convention.
He indulged his memories for a moment longer, sliding back onto the couch. They had been friends then . . .
CHAPTER 1 - THE RELUCTANT MAGICIAN
Twenty years earlier . . .
The cards flew into the air as though they had wings, spreading out across the brown carpet. “I suck at magic.” The young boy swatted at the cards as they landed.
“A good magician must persevere, Jack.”
“I’m not a good magician though, am I? I can’t do a single trick.” Jack’s shoulders hung so low they almost touched the ground.
“Well, never mind that now.”
Jack looked up at his mother in surprise. She never let him stop practicing, no matter how much he insisted he hated magic.
“You need a break sometimes,” she said.
He let out a giant sigh of relief as he watched her pick up the playing cards.
“Besides, there’s something else I want to talk to you about right now. Something about the convention,” she said, stretching her cheeks into a fake smile.
Jack wondered what his mother was up to. Besides the fact she didn’t believe in taking a break from magic, ever, she never discussed the convention with him. “As long as it’s nothing to do with me, I don’t care what you do at the convention.”
“Well, actually . . .” she said as she sat down on the couch next to him and patted his arm.
Jack turned his back to her. “Whatever it is, the answer is no!”
“Come now, Jack. You’re being so unreasonable. I haven’t even told you what it is yet.”
Jack grunted and kept his back turned.
“Your father thinks it’s a wonderful idea,” said his mother, her voice brimming with enthusiasm.
“He does?” Jack turned back around to face her. His father never attended the convention. So what does he think is so wonderful about it, Jack wondered. He didn’t have to wait long to find out.
“We’re all going as a family this year. And better still—”
“Oh no, we’re not! There is no way I’m going to the Magicians’ Convention. Not unless the sky turns purple, and crazy bats fly out of nowhere,” said Jack. He pulled his arm away from his mother’s stroking hand.
“Well, that could be arranged,” said his mother. She held her rigid smile in place.
“I find it hard to believe that Dad agreed to this.” He jumped up from the couch and snatched the cards from his mother’s hand. Throwing them across the room, he felt intense anger swelling inside his chest. “I can’t even do magic. I’m not a mage, so what’s the point?”
“Come now, Jack. You know full well you don’t need to be a mage to attend the convention. There are plenty of illusionists there. Just because your father and I are mages doesn’t mean you can’t be an amazing magician.”
Jack saw his mother’s face genuinely soften. He didn’t pull away as his mother got up from the couch and hugged him.
“What do you have in mind?” he said, giving in a little. He hated how much he always disappointed her.
She pulled away from him and spread her arms out, as though she was about to put on a performance, right then and there.
“The Council has agreed to let all four of us perform as a family at the convention this year,” she said. She clapped with childlike glee, then placed her hands on her hips and held her head high.
“What?” Jack stomped his foot so hard he thought he heard a crack. “You’ve seriously lost the plot!”
“Jack! Don’t talk to your mother that way,” said Jack’s dad. He casually walked in and relaxed onto the couch with his newspaper in hand.
“Thank you, Matthew. Talk some sense into your son, would you? He clearly isn’t listening to me.” She began pacing the small living room in her high heels.
“Jack, this is important to your mother. It’s just a one-off thing, I promise.” His dad’s soft, calming voice always helped Jack relax.
“Me? Perform at the Magicians’ Convention? This has got to be a joke. I can’t even do a basic magic trick. I have no real magic at all. Unless you’re planning on making me an assistant.” He felt his face go ice cold. “Please tell me you’re not planning on making me an assistant?”
“No, of course not,” said his mother. She scrunched her lips at the handheld mirror and reapplied her red lipstick. “There is still another week until the convention. There’s plenty of time to have you doing some fancy tricks. If you only practice more.”
“Sure. Great plan. You’ll wow the audience with your death and rebirth trick. Dad can heal some sick people up on stage. Penelope will force the audience to cluck like chickens. And me? Oh yeah, I’ll do a basic card trick. That will really impress them. Great idea.” He felt sick in the stomach as he reminded himself he was the only one in his family without any real magic. Or talent. “I’ve heard enough.”
“Wait. Please, Jack. It’s not what I had in mind at all. Come back.”
Jack heard his mother’s voice trailing away as he ran upstairs to his bedroom. He slammed his door and fell on his bed, shaking with anger and frustration.
“I didn’t think you cared so much about not having magic.”
Startled, Jack turned his head slightly while still lying on his front. “Get out of my room, Penelope. Get out!”
“Easy there, rock star. You don’t always have to be so dramatic. Would it kill you to be part of the family for once?” She brushed her long brown hair as she emerged from the corner of his room.
Jack felt his anger swelling. “I’m not doing a dumb stage show. And I’m not part of the family. That’s the point.”
Penelope stopped brushing her hair and sat on the end of Jack’s bed. Her face softened. “I know it’s always been hard for you. I get it.”
Jack’s anger grew hotter. “No, you don’t! You’ve never known what it’s like to not have magic. Your power is incredible. The Amazing Penelope, able to make people do whatever she wants them to. You have no idea how it feels to be ordinary. You’re all . . . special. And I’m nothing.” As he whispered the last word, he felt his rage melt into sadness. He felt so different. So defective. So alone.
“Well, I can’t help it if you’re adopted,” said Penelope, gently hitting Jack across the head with a pillow.
“Haha,” he said stiffly. He couldn’t even bring himself to smile at her joke. He sat up on his bed, feeling sorry for himself.
“What if I told you I found a way to give you magic? Would you come then?” said Penelope, wiggling her shoulders in excitement. She continued brushing her long brown hair.
Jack felt his emotions literally freeze. He felt nothing. Or did he? It was a feeling he couldn’t identify. Was it hope? Fear? Or relief?
“Well, aren’t you going to say something? You look like a stuffed mummy. I thought you’d be excited.” Penelope pulled a large gold coin from her pocket. Jack had seen gold coins before. He knew it was the only currency accepted at the convention, and his mother had brought them home many times. But this coin was different. He looked at it as she waved it in front of his face. It was larger than a regular gold coin. The picture on it interested him the most.
“Where did you get that from? Can I?” Jack reached out for it.
Penelope pulled it away, teasing him with it. “This coin can give you magic. You can finally be a mage, Jack!”
“Who said I wanna be?” said Jack.
“Oh, stop it. Admit you want magic. You just said how terrible it is to be normal a minute ago.”
“Even if I did have magic, I still suck at doing magic tricks, so what’s the point?” he said, reminding himself that being a mage would not necessarily make him a magician.
“True, but it’s a good start.” Penelope held out the giant coin toward his face.
“And you’re sure it will give me magic?” he said. He wanted to take it and yet felt frightened of it at the same time.
“Jessica wouldn’t lie to me. She’s my best friend.”
Jack looked at his older sister. Was she genuinely trying to help him? Or was this another one of her tricks? He decided it was worth the risk to find out. He reached his hand toward the coin.
Penelope put her brush on the bed and moved the coin expertly from hand to hand, disappearing it. “It seems to have vanished,” she said, smiling.
“Stop it!” said Jack.
“Ah, here it is behind your ear,” said Penelope, pulling it from behind Jack’s ear and flicking it into the air.
“Seriously?” said Jack, allowing himself to laugh a little. The coin fell down toward his hand as though in slow motion. He watched it spinning through the air and felt the cold of it in his palm as it landed. The cold feeling in his hand made the hairs all over his body stand on end. It was like an electrical current running through him. Was this what magic felt like? Before he had the chance to speak, the feeling intensified. He tightened his grip on the coin, squeezing it involuntarily, and yelled out in pain.
He looked at Penelope, begging her to tell him what was happening. But her eyes were filled with fear.
“Jack! I don’t think this is what’s meant to happen. Jack! Jack! Are you all right?” He felt her hands on his shoulders. He was being shaken. But he was powerless to do anything. It was as though the coin was burning its way through his hand.
But as quickly as the pain started, it melted away. His mind drifted, and his body suddenly relaxed. Penelope looked like a dream to him. Her mouth was moving, but he couldn’t hear what she was saying. A hand stung his face and fingers pried his eyelids open, but he couldn’t respond.
As quickly as time seemed to stop, it returned to normal. The pain in his hand was back. He could hear Penelope yelling at him again.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened.” She was visibly shaking.
Jack blinked several times, trying to see clearly. He shook his body, trying to regain feeling everywhere. “Am I magic? Do I have some? Magic, I mean,” he said, as his senses returned to normal.
“Jack . . . your hand. I’m pretty sure it’s not meant to have done that. Mother is going to kill me.”
Jack looked at his palm. The one that had held the coin. He covered his mouth with his other hand to stop himself from screaming. He started to breath heavily and looked at Penelope for answers.
“Don’t look at me like that. I honestly didn’t know that was going to happen. Jessica told me the coin glows and then you have magic. She stole it from her dad. And I’m meant to give it back to her. I promised her I would only keep it for one day.”
“You gave me the coin without knowing what it does? You took your friend’s word on it?” he said, daring a peek at his hand once again. But he closed his eyes at the sight before him. “Where’s the coin gone?”
“I think that’s it. It melted into your hand,” said Penelope, fumbling for her brush. She stood up and moved toward his bedroom door, as though about to make a run for it.
“You can’t go. You can’t just leave me here like this. You bring me a coin and now this? Fix it, Penelope. Fix it!” he called, pointing his palm at her.
“I’m sorry, all right? I have no idea why it didn’t work like Jessica said it would. Maybe we should have said the magic word or something.” She opened his door.
His mother appeared in the doorway. “What’s going on in here? Are you two fighting again? Honestly, Jack, you’re not still angry over the convention are you? We can hear you screaming from downstairs.”
As his mother entered the room, Penelope jumped backward, farther than a grasshopper would have managed. She sat on the end of Jack’s bed with a pretend smile on her face. Jack hid his hand behind his back.
“I’m fine, Mum, really. Penelope convinced me to come to the convention after all,” he said. It was the first thing that had come to his head. But he regretted the words the moment they came out of his mouth.
“Really? Is this true, my sweet?” said his mother. She walked over to Penelope and took hold of both her hands.
“Yep. A-ha. True,” said Penelope. She nodded her head and took a big breath.
Jack’s mother scrunched her eyebrows together. “You didn’t force him to say yes, did you?”
“Nope. He just needed to see your perspective. How important this is to you. Right, Jack?” said Penelope, pulling her hands away from her mother.
“Yep. I’m all good. Who cares if I’m just ordinary? I’ll come. Yippee,” said Jack. He sounded totally fake about it and knew it. But he couldn’t even pretend to be excitement.
“Well, don’t you worry about being ordinary. Penelope will use her magic to make the crowd think you’re the best one of us all,” said his mother.
Jack’s mouth hung wide open. But before he could say anything, his mother reached for his hands. He jumped back on the bed, hiding both his hands behind his back. He couldn’t show her what was on his left hand. “Terrific. Thanks, Penelope! Thanks, Mum.”
His mother looked at him suspiciously. “You definitely didn’t force him?”
Penelope jumped up from the bed. “Nope. He decided all on his own. See you later, little brother. We’ll get out of your hands,” she said. She googled her eyes at him over her shoulder. She walked her mother to Jack’s bedroom door. “I think he needs time to take it all in,” he heard her whisper.
As the door closed shut behind them, Jack peeked back at the palm of his hand. Right in the center of his palm was the exact image of the gold coin, etched into it in solid gold. He swallowed hard to keep his dinner down. He was branded. The coin had melted into his hand. At least it didn’t hurt anymore. Burping, he felt his stomach muscles release the tension they had been holding.
He summarized what had just happened for his own sanity. Penelope had been given this coin by her friend Jessica. It would apparently give him magic. It had melted into his hand. That wasn’t meant to happen. But there was one thing he still didn’t know. Did he now have a magical ability?
There was only one way to find out. He had to say the word. He closed his eyes and concentrated on that electric feeling he had experienced earlier. He wished with all his might this would work. He took a deep breath and said, “Abracadabra!”
THE MAGICIANS' CONVENTION -BOOK 1
A secret convention. A magical hat. A race against the clock.
Twelve-year-old Toby is plunged into a world of magic when he wakes up to find his grandpa has been kidnapped by a talking panther.
Following the clues left behind Toby finds himself at the 999th Magicians’ Convention. Filled with mages, illusionists, and obstacles at every turn, Toby and his newfound friends, Thatch and Wesa, must find an ancient magical hat before an evil magician gets his hands on it first.
Failing will mean the death of those they love and threaten the world of magic. A world that might finally reveal the secret of who they really are.
Come on a magical adventure to discover The Magicians’ Convention, a middle-grade novel that will entertain and delight even the most reluctant of readers.
Ideal for kids ages 9+ and adults who love adventurous, page-turning fantasy stories.
Elena Paige’s action and adventure fantasy novel for children and preteens, The Magicians Convention: The Magicians: Book 1, follows Toby as he discovers an entirely different world than the rather humdrum one he was familiar with.
Paige’s plot is fresh and imaginative, and her characters soon felt like old friends. The Magicians Convention is brilliantly conceived and a lot of fun to experience through Toby’s eyes, and his delight at having, for the first time, friends and companions, is a joy to share in.
The story takes readers on an amazing, fantastical adventure packed with magic, imaginary worlds, an evil magician, and interesting characters.
There is magic in the plot and Toby, along with his new friends, Wesa and Thatch, will keep readers spellbound as they start searching for the magical hat. All the characters in the story complement the main characters of Toby, Wesa, and Thatch perfectly.
The narrations are dreamy and detailed and will take young readers into a magical world, which will leave them fascinated. The fluidity in the writing takes the story forward without sounding forced, and it is exciting to see three innocent kids having fun with magic.
All kids love magic and this story - with its intrigue, magic, illusion, suspense, adventure, and action - will take readers to a fantasy land where they will be immersed in a world of whimsy and fantasy. I am sure, like me, that readers will be waiting for the next book in the series.
THE CURIOUS PEOPLE ACROSS THE STREET
Tingles of excitement ran down his spine, like electricity searching for Earth. Toby peered carefully from behind the curtain. Something important was happening across the street.
Why would so many people line up outside Mrs. Inkwell’s house so early on a Sunday morning? The neighbors’ shutters were all shut tight. He glanced at his clock. It was just past eight. The only person who ever visited Mrs. Inkwell was her granddaughter, Abby. Besides, how would so many people even fit inside a one-bedroom house with a kitchen as small as a bathroom?
Toby squinted to make sure his eyes weren’t tricking him. All the adults in the line wore long black cloaks. Being an avid reader, he would have instantly decided they were vampires had it not been for the hats they all wore. Top hats. He decided on the spot they must all be magicians. But this didn’t fit because their long elegant hats weren’t black. They were gold or purple.
As the light autumn breeze blew across the narrow street, the cloaks danced about in the light, revealing inner linings of either purple or golden stars to match their owners hats.
Toby watched in awe as the line shuffled forward. If only he could get a view of Mrs. Inkwell’s front door so he could see if she was letting them in. That blasted banksia tree was hiding his view of her front door.
“Maybe they’re going through a magic portal,” he mumbled aloud. He frowned at his own words, annoyed at himself for saying it. Magic wasn’t real.
“New book you’re reading?”
Startled, Toby turned to see his grandpa standing at the bedroom door. “Grandpa, I told you to knock.”
“Ah yes. I keep forgetting.” He walked into the room and sat on the bed, frowning at the mess of clothes and books.
“You’ve got to see this to believe it, Grandpa.” Toby waved him over.
“The magic portal, you mean? Oh, it’s outside your window, is it?”
“No, that was me goofing around. This is for real. Check out the line of people outside Mrs. Inkwell’s house. If only I could see her front door.” He felt positively giddy with excitement. He lived in Fun Street. And unlike the name suggested, nothing exciting ever happened in Fun Street. Until today. Toby sighed at Grandpa, wondering why he was still sitting on the bed. Wasn’t he curious about them all?
“So, what’s happening at Florence’s house? That cute little granddaughter of hers come visiting again?”
“No, not Abby. It’s complete strangers.” Why was Grandpa not looking for himself?
“And”—emphasized Toby—“Abby is boring. All she ever talks about are her annoying dolls. What ten-year-old still plays with dolls?”
Grandpa was constantly nagging him to spend more time with her when she was visiting her Grandma. But he always did his best to avoid her.
“Well, I think lots of ten-year-olds still play with dolls. They just don’t admit it. I like Abby. She has spunk. Besides, there’s no hurry to grow up, is there?”
Toby rolled his eyes.
“So what will it be for breakfast this morning? Eggs or pancakes?”
“Whatever, Grandpa. You choose. But first, seriously, come and see the people outside. It’s like they’re straight out of a storybook.” Toby pulled the curtains aside, pointing to the people lined up only yards away in the narrow little street.
Grandpa entertained him with a quick glance outside. “The sun is shining brightly on this lovely autumn day in Moonee Ponds. Florence Inkwell’s quaint little cottage is looking peaceful across the way. No sign of Abby, and not even a possum looking for breakfast this morning.”
Confused, Toby looked back outside. “Grandpa! Stop kidding around. Don’t you think it’s strange, all those people visiting Mrs. Inkwell? And dressed like that.”
Granda turned away and scratched his head. “To be honest, I can’t see anyone at all.”
“You can’t see anyone?” Toby knitted his eyebrows together and clenched his jaw.
“Nope. Not a soul. Not even Florence herself is up yet by the looks. Toby, what’s this really about? Are you still angry at me because I refuse to buy you a television?”
Toby stiffened and frowned. What was going on? Could Grandpa really not see them? Had all the people already vanished inside Mrs. Inkwell’s house? There were at least a few hundred lined all the way up the street when he had last looked.
He glanced back outside, glad to see them all still there. “It’s nothing to do with the TV, Grandpa. Tell me the truth. You can’t see anyone outside? You can’t see hundreds of people all the way down the street?”
“Oh, are we playing a game? Sure. I can see hundreds of people all the way down the street.” Grandpa repeated Toby’s words. He put one hand to his forehead as though looking far into the distance. “Ah yes, an interesting lot. They’re all looking at Florence Inkwell.” He paused as he scratched his bald head for ideas. “And she just pulled out a broomstick. Yes, she’s really a witch!” Impressed with himself, he chuckled. “How’s that for a story?”
“Stop it, Grandpa. This isn’t funny. This is real.” The blood rushed to Toby’s head. “Look properly.”
Grandpa cleared his throat and looked again. “Nobody’s out there. Not a soul. You definitely need breakfast. Did you stay up late reading again last night?”
“You can’t see a single person standing outside wearing a top hat and cloak?” persisted Toby. His voice bounced off his blue bedroom walls, hitting him in the pit of his stomach. What was going on here?
“Top hats and cloaks? This is more serious than I thought. How about we get some food and investigate together afterward? What do you say?”
Toby’s heart raced faster than his mind. He was used to Grandpa joking around with him and playing pranks. If this was another one of his jokes, he’d really gone too far. That many people outside his window on a Sunday morning would go down in history as the best prank ever. He had to figure this out himself.
“I’m not hungry. I think I’ll skip breakfast and, um, read a book.” He quickly grabbed one of his many books from the shelf close by and lay on his bed reading. He sucked in the air slowly, calming himself down.
“Suit yourself. How about you try reading the book the right way up? Reading upside down could cause some serious damage. Teenagers!” Grandpa winked and walked out, closing the bedroom door behind him.
“I’m not a teenager until I turn thirteen. I only just turned twelve!” yelled Toby after him.
He threw the book across the room and jumped up, drawn back to his window. There they were, plain as day. The people had moved forward considerably since he had last looked, and at least a few hundred more had joined the line, which now trailed even further down the street.
Was it a prank? Was he hallucinating? Or were they real? Only one way to find out. He would sneak out across the street and find out for himself.
Oh my goodness you had me from the first word and I could not put it down. What a wonderful journey with some fun new characters. Lots of great images, lots of action, lots of twists - what else could you want in a book? Answer absolutely nothing. I am so looking forward to reading the remaining books to the series.
If you like Angie Sage's Septimus Heap series and you like Harry Potter then you will fall in love with this book . I had been looking forward to reading this book and it did not disappoint great job and thank you. I don't know if I have enough superlatives to describe this book but my advise is just read it and enjoy. Best read in a while.