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When she wasn’t being shunted from one foster home to the next, Piper Weiss spent the first twelve years of her life in an orphanage. But everything changes when a dark stranger shows up claiming to be her father. Things get even weirder when Piper is taken to live with her uncle, who happens to be the world-famous magician and escape artist, Harry Houdini. And Houdini is not at all pleased about having a curious twelve-year-old running around his home.
Piper attends school, gets detention on her first day, and meets some friends who will help her unravel the clues to her mysterious past. But something sinister and powerful has been unleashed in New York, an evil force hell-bent on bringing about the Apocalypse. Sideshow freaks are being murdered and it all seems to be leading to a dark ritual started twelve years earlier—the day Piper was born. How can Piper defeat this malevolent entity when she may be the reason for its very existence?
Piper Houdini: Apprentice of Coney Island is a young adult novel set in the Roaring Twenties against the hustling and bustling background of New York’s Coney Island—a time filled with silent movies, secret speakeasies, and an unscrupulous Spiritualist movement that is the unwitting pawn in a plot to bring about hell on Earth. Populated with a cast of actual historical figures—including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dion Fortune, and Aleister Crowley—this spine-tingling tale will appeal to readers who enjoy urban fantasy and paranormal historical fiction as much as a jaunt on the Wonder Wheel.
“This book is magical in many ways. Piper is an endearing and relatable character that I’m sure adults and young adults alike will enjoy. A great debut novel from Glenn Herdling.”
—Rea Nolan Martin, author of The Sublime Transformation of Vera Wright and Mystic Tea
Herdling debuts with a jam-packed supernatural adventure set against the backdrop of 1920s New York City. A resourceful, redheaded orphan, 12-year-old Piper Weiss is sent to live with her uncle Harry Houdini who is consumed by a campaign to discredit spiritualism and the mediums who he believes prey on the grief stricken and vulnerable. Yet something unearthly is creeping in the periphery, and Piper becomes embroiled in a mystery involving the deaths of Coney Island's freak show performers; the story also draws in vampires, a hidden dimension (which Piper enters through a magic mirror), and a dash of voodoo. Herdling provides plenty of forward momentum, yet the novel can become overwhelmed by the many supernatural elements and plot diversions, including Piper's own gathering powers, which only become clear toward the end; readers may need to scramble back through the pages to understand how the elements are interconnected. Regardless, strong central characters, evocative writing, and an atmospheric setting result in a fresh and fun novel. Though labeled as young adult, Piper's story, set to continue in a sequel, is probably best suited to a middle grade audience. Ages 12 up. (BookLife)