Stuart Horten, 10, is back for a second mysterious adventure.
Previously, in Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms (2012), he discovered the hiding place of his Great-Uncle Tony's magic-making paraphernalia—stage equipment from his magic show. Now, with the help of intrepid reporter and next-door-neighbor triplet April, he intends to find out what the mechanisms do. There's an added bit of pressure: Hidden somewhere in the magical contrivances is Tony's will, which conveys ownership of all the tricks to whoever finds it. A mysterious elderly woman from Canada would like to be that person, so Stuart and April have to work hard and fast. Each mechanism, when successfully triggered, creates an intriguing and sometimes perilous trap for the pair to escape. April's siblings, May and June, unwind a little from their previous aloof attitude and begin to help out as well. Other colorful characters, briefly sketched but neatly depicted, meander through the tale. Horten’s dad, known for his enthusiastic overuse of an extensive vocabulary, is joined by museum curator Rod Felton. They take turns throwing around bewildering (but funny) Latin terms, their incomprehensibility enhancing Horten’s and readers’ sense of living in a world separate from adults.
While this outing lacks the notable magical impact of the first of the series, it's still rollicking good fun and often engagingly suspenseful, perfect for a quick read or entertaining read-aloud. (Mystery. 9-14)