The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris was sent to me by the Amazon Vine review programme in exchange for my honest opinion.
Neil Patrick Harris is probably best known by adults as the actor who played Doogie Howser M.D. and he continues to act in films and on t.v. This book is a new project, and the first of a series of tales featuring The Magic Misfits.
I’m always a bit cautious about books written by people who are not actually authors. Particularly so in this case as it seems to have been co-written by Alec Azam. I have to say, the style is rather clunky and it’s clear to me, as an adult reader, that this is not great fiction. Having said that, if I were a child reader, I would absolutely love this. In fact, if I had had this as a child I’d have been mildly obsessed with it.
Firstly, it’s simple to read with a really page turning adventure at its heart. I loved mystery stories as a child, and the gaping holes in this one wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest. Secondly, the characters are sympathetic. Carter, the hero of the piece, is a boy down on his luck, living with a con artist uncle, forced to do magic tricks to make ends meet. When his uncle tries to entice him into crime, Carter runs away and discovers a magical place like no other.
There are great, cartoon like illustrations throughout that work perfectly with the story and help to immerse the reader in the world the author has created. What would have sold it to me, and will sell it to countless children now, is that there are secret codes, letters to the reader, and a whole heap of ‘how to’ magic trick explanations in the book that you, as the reader can practice, so that you can become part of the Magic Misfits gang yourself.
It’s really fun. I recommend it to readers, both boys and girls (it’s got an impressive, and not entirely unexpectedly diverse group of characters in it in terms of race, gender and orientation – without pushing any agenda either, I might add) aged six to ten.