I like magic in stories. But I don't like everything-always-works-out-perfectly kinds of magic. Magic that makes the protagonist always certain of victory. I mean, where's the struggle? Where's the suspense?
From the very first sentence of The Whatnot, Stefan Bachman creates a world of magic fraught with peril, where an outcast like Pikey Thomas is always in double the danger -- from the London police on one hand, and dangerous Faeries on the other. All he wants is to keep to himself, out of sight, but his efforts to disappear land him smack in the middle of an adventure whose stakes are not only his own survival, but also the survival of all of London.
With humanity and poetry, Bachman weaves a tale full of action, suspense, and inner struggle. This book is called a "companion" to The Peculiar, and is certainly a satisfying sequel for those who have read that first book of Bachman's, but this book stands on its own as well. An accomplished musician as well as an author, Bachman has written music to complement his series. You can check it out here.
I recommend this book to 5th-7th graders who want a little magic in their lives, but who don't mind faeries that are more creepy than cute.