Houdini and the Five-Cent Circus

By Keith Gray

Young Quills reviews

Houdini and the 5 Cent CircusLola’s review
I really loved this book because it was like a back story of Houdini. I also think that it was good how his back story had a lot to do what he did later. And it was really interesting. The only bad thing I would say about this book is it didn’t really feel like the old days because at first I thought this wasn’t set in the 1800s, but it was. Overall I really like this book and recommend it for any age 10 – 15, any gender. 

Star rating ★★★★★

Nusayba’s review
I found this book interesting and there was never a part I didn’t like or thought was boring. It is very fast paced and would get everyone interested including non-readers. Although it is shorter than most, I think all ages would enjoy it. I certainly did.

Star rating ★★★★

Harriet’s review
Author: Keith Gray, when he was a child, found reading a chore. However, he says that once he read The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall, he loved reading and writing. He is a successful writer and when he was 24 he published Creepers, which was later shortlisted for the Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Prize. Keith Gray was 46 when Houdini and the Five Cent Circus was published a year ago and now lives near Edinburgh.

Book setting: The book is set in 1885 and from the perspective of a girl who knew Erik Weisz, a penniless immigrant, personally. She is childish and has a friend who gives Erik a dare which unveils Erik’s (Harry Houdini’s) talent for picking locks; this gave him few friends and a bad reputation. The book sees him get famous and in danger, all inspiring him to transform into the greatest magician and escapist the world has ever seen.

My thoughts: The parts of the book I enjoyed most were the historical references and historical character. This was a fun element that made you feel transported back to 1885. This also made it more believable and helped you understand a lot more; including dangers, norms and crime. Another thing I liked the emotive imagery and vivid characters such as, “I couldn’t help but blush” and, “I was faint and cold with fear”.  I felt that this made it easier for me to empathise with the characters. I also liked the wit and feeling put into the story that made it come to for me.

Dislikes and improvements: I felt it could have been longer and had a less sudden end and maybe have more details and feelings added to bring the characters to life more and to make it feel less like a story and more like real life.

Conclusion: I conclude that this is a well written, historically influenced book that is intriguing, witty, and emotive.

Jo’s review
I thought it was a great book because it was intriguing to find out about how a magician had started off. It surprised me that he had started off so simply unpicking locks. I thought that Erik Weiss was the most interesting character, he was so confident and boastful that it made him quite fun to read. I had no idea how, in that time, it was so special to go to a circus and how the towns were set out – the way the system of leadership worked then.

I loved the end the most, the gripping situation they end up in. I especially love the way the author, Keith Gray, connected the plot – the secret of how Mattie could be his assistant and help him pull of the magic trick. The last sentence stood out for me and I loved it, how she explains she was proud to know him and that this was simply the beginning of his journey before he becomes Houdini, the famous magician.

I would recommend to others for a quick, gripping read!

Jenna’s review
At the very beginning, I was not really gripped into the book but as the story went on, it did build up to something but nothing that I would be interested in. At the beginning, I was interested about his friend Jack because he was a character who would want to dare the other characters crazy things but really wanted to look pleased with themselves when the other character didn't complete the dare. I would recommend this book to some people who would find this interesting.

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