Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hocus Pocus Hotel - Book 3 - The Thirteenth Mystery

The "Hocus Pocus Hotel" series comes to an end with The Thirteenth Mystery.  I suppose that "thirteen" really is an unlucky number, as least for this series.

Now, I'll be up front and honest - this is not the best children's mystery series on the shelves today.  It is cute, it has its moments, and I admittedly love the color internal illustrations.  The stories, however, are somewhat simple and the mysteries not overly complicated.  However, that being said, they can be fun to read, and there is a small amount of interest in seeing how the magic tricks are performed in the book (since the author leads the reader through the tricks and eventually explains exactly how they are done - removing all "magic" from the tricks).

Charlie Hitchcock and Tyler Yu are back for two final mysteries - first, Brack (the famed Abracadabra for whom the hotel is named) disappears, leaving it up to Charlie and Tyler to find him. When the new stage magician plays some new tricks on the 12th floor, suddenly Brack isn't the only one missing - Tyler has disappeared, too!  With the help of newcomers Annie, Rocky, and Cozette, not only do they find the missing magician and Tyler, but they stumble upon an even greater mystery involving twelve marble statues of the Greek gods that were thought missing for nearly 50 years!

Michael Dahl (the author) moves the story along at a fairly quick pace, and while all eyes seem to be once again upon Theopolis, the true villain who is determined to get his (or her!) hands on those statues comes as no surprise.  Again, this series is for pre-teens, so it is more about the clue-finding, trick-solving, and adventure than it is about actually "whodunnit."  Yet, Dahl does bring up a pretty interesting thing throughout this final story.

What is it about buildings and the thirteenth floor?  I have no doubt everyone knows that buildings with more than 12 stories to them for some reason skip from floor 12 to floor 14 - you will never find a button in an elevator for floor 13.  This stumps Charlie and Tyler briefly as well - until they, along with Brack, discover that the hotel really does have a 13th floor after all!  The question is - how does one get to it, and how was it being used by the villain of the mystery to escape detection?  I have to wonder - if I had read this book when I were a pre-teen, would I have been interested enough to start checking every building I visited without a 13th floor to see if there really was a floor between the 12th and 14th stories that the owners didn't want anyone to know about?  Knowing me, I probably would have!

While Brack ends the book with the statement, "The show must go on!", unfortunately for the Hocus Pocus Hotel, the show is over and so is the series.  Which, in a small way, is a shame, since some of the new characters introduced in this book actually had some personality to them, and it might have been interesting to see where Dahl would have taken them in future tales.  Alas, though, the further adventures of Charlie, Tyler, and Brack (and maybe even Theopolis, too) are left to the readers' imaginations.

RATING:  6 turning lilies out of 10 for unveiling the mystery behind the magic and showing just how important misdirection is in the world of magic tricks!

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