The Houdini Inheritance

The Houdini Inheritance

By Author / Illustrator

Emma Carroll


Historical Fiction

Age range(s)



Faber & Faber




Paperback / softback




Magic shows and mysteries abound in this showstopping new standalone from a bestselling author who has sold close to a million copies of these middle-grade adventures!

The English seaside, 1920s.  
A world famous escape artist . . .
A suitcase full of secrets . . .
And a death-defying stunt . . .

When Harry Houdini comes to visit the seaside town of Sidford-on-Sea, Glory and her friend Dennis are first in-line to see him. He is there to perform a daring trick: he will jump off the town pier in chains, pitching himself into the water below. But when Glory outsmarts the infamous Houdini, she is suddenly sucked into his world, and finds herself tasked with looking after his precious trunk - the one that contains all his secrets.  
With Houdini in danger, Glory and Dennis are thrown deep into an adventure that takes them all the way to Coney Island in America, and the dark underbelly of its amusement parks . . .

Find out more about The Houdini Inheritance in our Q&A with author Emma Carroll

'Utterly thrilling.' Abi Elphinstone.  'Magical.' Katya Balen.  'An absolute cracker.' Hilary McKay.  'A page-turning, plot-twisting, mind-bending treat.' Piers Torday.  'Bursting with excitement, action and heart.' Jasbinder Bilan.  'Emma Carroll at her dazzling, storytelling best.' Phil Earle.



I absolutely loved The Houdini Inheritance! What's not to like in a book that has magic, adventure, and trans-Atlantic travel?

It's 1926 and Glory and her best friend Dennis are enthralled by the infamous escape artist, Harry Houdini. When his show comes to their hometown of Sidford-on-Sea, Glory accidentally outsmarts Houdini, which leads the friends into a world of rivalry and deception. Following the show, Glory discovers that Houdini has accidentally left his trunk, which has all the notes for his new stunt with which he hopes to win the annual vaudeville competition in New York, to be crowned king of Vaudeville. There is only one thing for it and so Glory, Dennis and friends set out to find him!

The story moves across the Atlantic to New York, which allows for wonderful descriptions of the sumptuous liner they travel on, and the plot thickens as Glory meets the mysterious Magic Mae. Kidnap, reunions and a life lesson in being true to yourself fill the final third of this gripping story.

I love stories set in the 1920's and the descriptions of life at that time are well drawn. I thought that the themes of racism and homophobia and the interaction between fact and fiction were woven in well to create a plot rich in detail. Overall, for me, this has to be Emma Carroll's best book yet.

304 pages / Reviewed by Rachel Bolton

Suggested Reading Age 9+


The Houdini Inheritance is a thrill-tingler of a read! Emma Carroll captures all the fun of the rackety world of variety entertainment a hundred years ago. With a rambunctious cast of characters and brimming with surprises, the narrative has all the energy of a vaudeville show.

It's 1926 and, with both their mothers away for the summer, Glory and her best friend Dennis are left largely to their own devices in their quiet home town of Sidford-on-Sea. Glory's main concern is persuading her family to accept a dog, until the great showman Harry Houdini arrives in town. He intends to jump from the pier, wrapped in chains, and Glory and Dennis are instantly captivated. But in their quest to find out the secrets of Houdini's art, they are accidentally sucked into his perilous world of transatlantic deception and rivalry. Before they know it, Glory and Dennis are travelling to America, aboard the Aquitania, tasked with keeping Houdini's precious trunk of secrets safe; his whole lifetime's work is at stake, and they are determined to foil his ruthless and shadowy enemies.

Emma Carroll needs no introduction as the reigning queen of historical novels for children and the Houdini story is a gift of a subject. In her deft hands, the fascinating story of mystery and illusion bursts into technicolour excitement. She writes beautifully - enough vivid description, expressive language and well-judged historical detail to bring the story to life, but not enough to slow it down or interrupt the tightly-plotted narrative. Perfect for a whole class read aloud.

304 pages / Reviewed by Louisa Farrow, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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