The Magical Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris is the third series (at the very least) I’ve read that uses a Lemony Snicket-style narrator. Which seems incredibly fitting since NPH played Count Olaf in the most recent adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
The book itself was a light, breezy read and I did enjoy it. A group of kids come together by a mutual interest in magic tricks and generally helping people out. Each kid is fairly distinct and has room for character growth.
All or almost all of the magic in the book is the smoke-and-mirrors, slight-of-hand, stage magician magic. Instructions on magic tricks can be found throughout the book (including one I hadn’t heard of, which says more about NPH’s choices in tricks than my knowledge of stage magic) I’m not authority on Neil Patrick Harris but I have heard he is trained in stage magic so the inclusions made sense.
There is wiggle room for NPH to add more Merlin/Dumbledore magic in later books. A fortune teller gives the kids some remarkably prescient advice so the series could be edging into magical realism. I’m good either way.
Daniel Handler didn’t create snarky and unreliable narrators with Lemony Snicket. In fact, I have always assumed he was parodying 19th century authors. However, he did create a loopy, over-the-top voice that I’ve seen echoed in works like The Secret Series and The Mysterious Benedict Society. The Magical Misfits fits in with them. (But none of them touch the Kafkaesque bleakness of Handler)
NPH actually has the most grounded use of this style of narration. I can’t say the book is realistic but it is more realistic than any of the others :D And I enjoyed it enough that I am reserving judgement until I read the second book.
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