The Magic Misfits are back for another outing.
The second installment in this middle-grade series returns readers to the magic shop in Mineral Wells, where Carter—the protagonist of the first novel—found a family, friends, and a new life. The story centers on Leila, the dark-skinned orphan girl adopted by the Vernons, the gay couple who own the magic shop. The quest for identity is at the center of the tale, as Leila yearns to know why her birthparents abandoned her. The plot thickens when Sandra Santos, a beautiful and mysterious stranger from her father Dante Vernon’s past, sweeps into town, and rumors of hauntings at the Grand Oak Resort seem to be linked to magical misdeeds from Dante’s younger days. Acceptance, love, and understanding are at the heart of this novel, which features a diverse cast of child characters. Readers who love Harris’ (The Magic Misfits, 2017, etc.) screen/stage presence will feel as if he’s sitting next to them reading the words aloud, as the dialogue sounds authentic to his own voice. It is too cutesy at times, but the message that friendship helps children conquer adversity is a welcome one. The recap of the first novel is helpful, but interjected magic-trick instructions break the narrative flow.
A heartfelt sequel that primes audiences for the next installment. (Fiction. 8-12)