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The Carnival of Lost Souls: A Handcuff Kid Novel Hardcover – October 1, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6–Jack Carr has never really belonged. A foster child who has been bounced from home to home, he has one constant in his life: his obsession with Harry Houdini. Jack's luck changes when he goes to live with the professor, an old eccentric who is looking for a boy interested in magic. But all is not as it seems at the idyllic house. The professor had sold his soul to the Amazing Mussini, a magician of the dead. Jack suddenly finds that he is going to the Land of the Dead in place of the professor and is part of Mussini's Traveling Carnival. His only wish: to escape before he joins the dead. But in his way are his own success at performing his handcuff act and the brilliant mind of Mussini himself. Quimby keeps readers feeling Jack's tension and danger throughout the story. The Land of the Dead is a unique world with minotaurlike guards and bored dead people. The chapters are interspersed with excerpts in verse of a biography of Houdini. Though a little distracting, they do reflect what is going on in Jack's mind and are perhaps supposed to represent the book Jack always carries with him. Readers are sure to look forward to future adventures of the Handcuff Kid.–Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Jack Carr, a foster kid fascinated with handcuffs and Houdini, seems to have found a perfect new father in the magic-savvy Professor Hawthorne. But the professor, who sold his soul to the great, terrifying magician Mussini 50 years ago, sends Jack to take his place in a sort of underworld carnival of the damned. Jack forms a circus family with other kids trapped by Mussini to perform in the Forest of the Dead and perfects his act while planning a wily bout of escapism to return to the world of the living. There’s a lot going on here—including a nice series of change-of-pace poems that trace Houdini’s life—and Quimby attacks the onstage scenes of Jack coming into his own as the Handcuff Kid with particular gusto. She also uses some nifty narrative misdirection to swing a few surprises throughout, and if readers can quell a few nagging concerns (possibly to be dealt with in future Handcuff Kid novels), they’ll settle into a nicely paced, clever mix of ghost story and sideshow spectacle. Grades 5-8. --Ian Chipman
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Series: Handcuff Kid
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810989808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810989801
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jack is a boy who was shuttled from foster home to foster home, not finding a place that was comfortable. At the beginning of this book, he goes to live with the Professor. The Professor had made a deal with Mussini, an evil magician who wanted to be better than Harry Houdini. The Professor had to give up his soul to the magician, but he sent Jack to Mussini instead. Jack opened a chest in the professor's room and found that he was invited to see one of Mussini's shows. He later found out that he was lured to act in one of his shows and he had to take on dangerous magic tricks. Fortunately, Jack was a handcuff escape artist and he surprised Mussini with his tricks.

I think the book is well-written because it has lots of action and teaches you a little bit about Harry Houdini. The author uses lots of descriptive words that tells you a lot about Jack's adventure, almost making you feel like you are in the book.
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Format: Hardcover
I found the story engaging, with a cool, creepy vibe to it. I particularly like when authors give their take/explanation on how the supernatural 'works' in their stories' worlds and the Land of the Dead did not disappoint in that regard. The group of lost souls that Jack meets up with each contribute to the story in their own special ways, and I found myself rooting for each in turn- which sets you up for some surprise twists later.

Another nice touch is providing some background history on Harry Houdini- whom Jack, the protagonist idolizes. The progression of Houdini's life and trials often set a parallel to the troubles Jack faced in each chapter, providing a nice tie in, not just for Jack, but informing the reader as well, and setting the stage for the story as it unfolds.

Here's to hoping a series springs forth from this light, entertaining read, recommended for all ages.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm an avid reader of all genres. I found this one very engaging with just enough humor to keep me smiling. I found myself being pulled along by the story which kept me entertained. If you're interested in magic and illusions then this is a book for you. I recommend this for all ages.
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The Carnival of Lost Souls: A Handcuff Kid Novel
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