Follow The Artsy Reader on

#TheWriteReads #BlogTour #BookReview: The Mostly Invisible Boy by AJ Vanderhorst

My dear bookish friends!

I’m back with another TheWriteReads blog tour review today (I have discovered so many bookish gems through them – so big thanks to Dave!), and it’s for a middle grade fantasy adventure that I enjoyed a lot. The title caught my attention immediately when I heard of it, and I had so much fun creating the tour banner – the book cover is gorgeous and really fits the whole vibe of the book! I bet you really wonder now, But why is the boy mostly invisible, how does that work? Well, you will have to read the book yourself to find out, but here is some info about the book and my thoughts!

And big thanks to Dave and the author for letting me participate in the tour!

The Synopsis

Eleven-year-old Casey is stubbornly friendly, but he’s eternally the new kid at Vintage Woods Middle School. Students look right through him—and they’re not faking. Casey doesn’t know why he’s mostly-invisible, but when he scales a colossal oak, he discovers a fortress in its branches. The forgotten sentry tree marks the border between his safe, suburban life and a fierce frontier.

Casey and his little sister Gloria infiltrate Sylvan Woods, a secret forest society devoted to ancient, wild things. Sky-high footpaths. Survival sewing. Monster control. Shockingly, people here actually see Casey—but being seen isn’t enough. He wants to belong.

Keeping his identity hidden–while struggling to prove he fits–is hard enough, but Butcher Beasts have returned to Sylvan Woods after a hundred years. Trickery is under siege. As the monsters close in, and the fearsome Sylvan Watch hunts Casey down, he and his newfound friends must unearth abandoned magic, buried at the forest’s roots…or be devoured along with everyone else, Sylvans and civilians alike.

A fast-paced middle grade fantasy/adventure book with all the monsters kids could ever hope for.

Length: 298 Pages

Published: 27th May 2021



My Thoughts

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of middle grade stories. I always was, but over the past one or two years I have become really obsessed with them. They are usually short and fast-paced, but never any less deep than books intended for older kids or adults. On the contrary – they are often filled with great messages and deep, sometimes hidden, other times pretty obvious meaning. And I am so here for it!

The Mostly Invisible Boy is one of the many amazing middle grade stories that I really enjoyed. I felt with Casey right from the start. The poor boy gets overlooked by the bus driver, and the kids at school rarely even notice he’s there. The teachers mostly forget to call his name in class, or that he is even there. It was quite sad to see that Casey tried so hard to be seen at times, but mostly he just gave up (he had a list of possibilities to make himself less invisible and it broke my heart when none of his ideas worked!).

Casey has a lovely little sister called Gloria, and the two of them get along really well. I found it super cute and also quite refreshing for the genre – as this is rarely the case – that not long after the opening chapters the two go on an incridible adventure together (I think mostly the main character goes alone or with friends!). I found it so sweet how little Gloria also watched out for Casey – not only the other way around. And it made me incredibly sad when she revealed that she has the same problem as her big brother and gets overlooked by her peers too (Casey had thought it was only him and was surprised to find out that his little sister is suffering under the same problem).

Casey and Gloria’s parents are very odd. Apparently, they won a holiday in the sun and left the scene pretty quickly. Strangely, they are not taking their children! This, plus some very funny and odd linguistic elements add a kind of grotesque feature to the story. As it is so common for children’s literature though, the parents’ disappearance helps the kids be on their own – their chance to get out and go on an adventure! However, the parents did make some arrangements and left them a babysitter. Ms. Jones, like a lot in this book, is not at all what she first seems though – she adds another nice touch to the story that I found quite refreshing, and sometimes I was reminded of Mary Poppins a bit.

Frustrated with his (almost-)invisibility and his parents’ disappearance, Casey goes on a walk in the forest. Not on the ground though, as you might expect. Casey loves climbing trees, and climbing from tree to tree. The next day (yes, he stays the night away, in the dark, in the woods, ALL ON HIS OWN!!!), Casey comes across a HUGE oak tree. It’s so big, not even all the kids in his class could hold hands while embracing the tree trunk! So naturally, Casey decides to climb it, and he is very surprised with what he finds! Soon enough, he takes Gloria there, and the two of them go on a very magical adventure filled with monsters, unlikely friends, and all sorts of mysteries! In the end, Casey and Gloria might even find out about the reason of their almost-invisibility, and maybe even a cure?

I absolutely loved reading about Casey and his adventures. The friends he makes, the world he finds just behind his family home, and yet still worlds away, takes Casey on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The characters are all so witty and eloquent, and yet the dialogue feels so natural and flowing. The story itself is fast-paced and fun, it doesn’t ever get stuck on anything or leave you bored. Very rarely I found it even a bit too fast-paced or like some sequences could have done well with a bit more, but that is complaining on a very high standard (and not even really complaining).

If you love middle grade adventure stories or want to find a book to start reading the genre, this is the book for you! You will love the hidden realm Casey and Gloria encounter, and will have a hard time returning to reality (just like I did!). I loved the trees and their importance in the story, and what a strong team Casey and Gloria were. Together they go on an adventure you won’t want to miss!

This is a fun, engrossing read with great characters that I highly recommend! 4.5 stars from me!

Thank you all so much for reading!



About the Author

AJ Vanderhorst has had many jobs, including journalist, paramedic, escape artist, and baby whisperer. One time in fifth grade, he built a traffic-stopping fort in a huge oak tree, using only branches and imagination, and slept there for a week.

Now he and his wife live in a woodsy house with their proteges and a ridiculous number of pets, including a turtle with a taste for human toes. This makes AJ an expert on wild, dangerous things—invisibility spells, butcher beasts, hungry kids, you get the idea.

He is the only author in the world who enjoys pickup basketball and enormous bonfires, preferably not at the same time. He and his family have drawn up several blueprints for their future tree castle. Visit AJ online at



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow The Artsy Reader on