Vanishing Ink by Scott Wiser
"Von Gold would still be a famous magician if he hadn't been dishonest. Now he has no money and will soon be kicked out onto the street, and maybe out of town! But something is about to change his life forever. He is beginning to notice strange disappearances happening all around him. What he doesn't know is the whole world is about to disappear. And he'll be the one who has to stop it--along with the help of his friends, if he still has any...."
Full disclosure: Although I do not know the author, Scott, I do know his mother. She was excited to tell me about this book, and it sounded so good that I needed to read it! I promise that this in no way changes my review.
As you know, I have read dozens of books written by first-time, self published authors. Some of them have been very good, but most are mediocre. Most of them are ebooks, and if they are in print then the covers are cheesy and uninviting. The editing is usually poor, and it leaves the reader feeling completely let down. Now let me get to this book. It started as a Kickstarter project, and he raised enough money to publish it in print. Yay! Great start! Now, when you look at this book, you would not know that it is self published. It is beautiful. It's hard-bound, which is awesome, but to make it even better, the book jacket and cover have an amazing illustration on them. There's even texture on on the book jacket. It looks more professional than most professionally published books. It's great. The story is fun and unique, and comes to life on the pages. The characters are well developed and add so much to the story. Von Gold is a washed-up magician who has no ambition whatsoever. He learned a difficult lesson, and can't figure out a way to move on. Max is a great sidekick. I love that kid. I love his creativity, ambition, and positive attitude. Lucy is so sweet, and you can tell that she loves Max. You know that she has this fight going on in her head about what to do with, and how she feels about, Von Gold. The Mayor and Franz make great antagonists. The creativity in this story just goes on and on. There are some very good lessons taught in this book as well: honesty, integrity, a good work ethic, and love are just a few. The illustrations are amazing, and there are many of them. I thought it all came together well in the end, and it was a great story.
There are, unfortunately, some editing mistakes in this book. A few places in the story are kind of hard to follow, and the language in the book doesn't make you feel like you're in the 1930's. Something that was hard for me to grasp was the relics. They are supposed to be five feet tall. Well, I'm only 5' 2", so that would be very hard for me to hold and handle. I don't know how heavy they were, but they seem like they would be quite heavy. It doesn't seem like the characters would just be able to "whip" them around, as is stated in the book. I'm kind of nitpicking, because the story is fantasy, but there were a few times that crossed my mind.
This book is clean, which makes me so happy! There was one little spot where it looks like some men might harm a woman, but nothing happens, so it's all good. Yay for no profanity, no "intimacy" (except maybe a kiss or two), and no real violence. Thank you! I love a good, clean story! Overall, I enjoyed the story and do recommend it.
Rating: PG (No profanity or "intimacy," and no violence.)
Recommendation: 3rd to 4th grade (4th grade might understand it a little more) and up. It's a great middle-grader read! This would make a great read-aloud too!