Amy’s Thoughts On…The Mostly Invisible Boy by A.J. Vanderhorst (Blog Tour)

Thank you to The Write Reads for allowing me to be part of this blog tour.

The Mostly Invisible Boy by A.J. Vanderhorst

Released: 27th May 2021

CAWPILE Rating: 6.4 / 3 ★

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


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.

Amy’s Thoughts

I am always on the lookout for more adventurous middle grades to read, especially indie and self-published ones. So, when I came across The Mostly Invisible Boy, I was immediately intrigued, both by the title and the overall premise itself. I went into this book expecting adventure, mystery and magic, and for the most part, my expectations were achieved.

Casey Grimes is invisible to everyone at his new school – Vintage Woods Middle School. Students and staff alike look through him, and he doesn’t know why he’s like this. Casey, an avid tree climber, when scaling a colossal oak tree, stumbles across a fortress hidden within its branches. This tree marks the boundary between his sheltered residential life and a frontier filled with secrecy and war. Casey along with his younger sister Gloria explore this frontier and discover that it’s a secret forest society called Sylvan Woods, which is dedicated to all things ancient and untamed. Keeping his real identity a secret, Casey gets to work to try and uncover the secrets of Sylvan Woods, but with fearsome beasts returning to the woods, and Casey being hunted down, can he uncover these secrets and save Sylvan Woods for good.

This was an exciting, unique adventure with elements of fantasy intertwined within it. I was instantly drawn to this secret world of Sylvan Woods and found the way they live within and amongst trees to be fascinating. The Mostly Invisible Boy does draw on nature and how we can affectedly use it to the best of our ability, and this is something that I haven’t come across in many middle grade adventures before. Also, the school system within this distinctive society was formed in a way that made me want to study there. Some of the classes sounded fantastic and certainly differed from normal classes taught in suburban schools.

The plot, despite being intriguing, I did find to be slow at times. This did cause my attention to the story to wander off slightly and I found myself having to backtrack to get updated with the story at that moment in time. I also felt like some parts weren’t explained as well as they could’ve been, such as Casey’s history and if he wasn’t a civilian after all. However, as this is the first part of a series I am hoping that things such as these are explained in future books. Despite all this, I did find the overall story to be fun, bold and whimsical, and I can certainly see this kind of story being appealing to middle grade audiences.

Casey was a compelling protagonist and I found myself cheering for him throughout the story. All he wanted was to belong, and as we go on this journey with him, we find him making friends, being brave and finding out where he truly fits in. His character growth was handled incredibly well, and I’m looking forward to seeing how his character progresses in the sequels. Additionally, his relationship with Gloria moved me, a lot. You could see how much he loved Gloria and just wanted to protect her. Gloria, whilst I’m on the subject, was probably my favourite character. Despite her young age, she was feisty but friendly and seemed to warm hearts wherever she went. To say I’m excited to see how her character grows would be an understatement.

The Mostly Invisible Boy was, overall, a compelling, entertaining read packed full of magic, escapades and bravery. For the first book in a series, it was distinctive and will most definitely attract the interest of middle grade readers everywhere.

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

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