Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hocus Pocus Hotel - Book 2 - The Return of Abracadabra

And so we return to the Hocus Pocus Hotel (a/k/a The Abracadabra Hotel), where Tyler Yu lives and where his friend, Charlie Hitchcock visits more often than not to help solve a mystery involving magic - - and to help uncover the secrets behind the magic tricks being performed at the hotel!

One again, we get 209 pages, the first 8 pages of which are a two-page table of contents, a two-page spread of color art of the hotel itself, and four other pages for the title, credits, etc.  Thus, the tale itself doesn't begin until page 9, and upon turning the page, we find that page 10 is a full page color illustration.  So, as the first book seems to have more blank pages and pages of art than actual story, so does the second book follow suit.

Also the same as the first book, this second book, The Return of Abracadabra, actually features two stories, previously published as books 3 and 4, "The Assistant Vanishes!" and "The Trouble with Abracadabra."  Clearly, the original British versions of these books were considerably thinner, and I can only hazard a guess as to why Capstone, when printing the books here in America, decided to combine two stories into one for each published book.  Looking ahead on, it appears that the third book will follow this format.

As to the stories themselves, they are rather enjoyable.  Both Charlie and Ty are likable characters, and the easy reads of the short stories keeps the action moving fast.  In the first tale, one of Charlie and Ty's classmates disappears when a new magician performs on stage at the hotel.  The Great and Power Theopolis claims to be using real magic in his act, and while Ty and their other classmates fall for it, Charlie is more skeptical.  For instance, why would the magician need an entire floor of rooms to himself?  And why would his room have only one bedroom, when all the other rooms on the same floor have two bedrooms?  And why will Theopolis only speak to them when a reporter is present?  Plainly, not everything is what it seems, and Charlie is determined to expose the truth.

The second story actually sees the return of the once great Abracadabra (who has been hiding in plain sight at the hotel as the elevator operator).  He is set to start on stage once again, and all of the magicians in the area are competing to be on stage with him.  That is, until Theopolis shows up on the scene, giving Abracadabra the ultimate challenge - figure out how Theopolis will stage his next big magical performance or hand over the theater, the hotel, and his rooftop abode to him!  The older magician accepts the challenge, and he turns to Charlie and Ty for help.  Needless to say, the magical performance is a doozy - levitation, juggling, and a shocking disappearance leaves everyone stumped, including Abracadabra, Charlie, and Ty.  With the clock ticking before Abracadabra has to turn over his hotel, Charlie and Ty work overtime to figure out just how he did all of those things on his own ... or did he?

While certainly not high-brow literature, nor even the best children's books I've ever read, this series is light-hearted and fun - and believe me, in this day and age, everyone can use all the fun they can get!

RATING:  7 smoke and mirror magic tricks out of 10 for a quick, easy read that made me smile.

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