This new fantasy adventure series centers around a boy who is invisible at school but very visible at home. The reason for his disappearing act is never explained, but I’m sure it will be explored further as the series progresses. Book 2 is already in the works as a sample chapter is shared in the back pages.

The plot of THE MOSTLY INVISIBLE BOY takes off when Casey’s parents decide to take a kid free vacation. He and his younger sister are left in the care of a rather strange babysitter. Ms. Jones is loose with the rules and readers will be suspicious of her.

Casey goes off into the nearby woods to show his sister a tree he found. The big oak is full of mystery and it leads to an entirely different community—Sylvan Woods. The residents don’t seem to like “civilians”— people like Casey. There are also vicious monsters. Ones who would make a normal kid run home. These brave twosome stay and with the help of a spunky resident named Luci, they pretend to be her cousins and begin to unravel the secrets of Sylvan Woods.

Everything you’d expect in a fast paces fantasy is included:

  1. Magic (How it works and who’s in charge adds to the tension)
  2. Well-Developed Setting (Sylvan Woods captures the essence of world building)
  3. Complex characters (Both adults and kids. Readers will for sure find a favorite)
  4. Conflict (Almost every chapter has some, whether it be internal conflict or physical encounters)
  5. A Power Structure (No spoilers here)

Perfect for middle grade—not too scary but enough to keep you flipping the pages.



Eleven-year-old Casey Grimes 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.


  1. The relationship between siblings Casey and Gloria will make you smile at how real it is, even in the middle of a magical forest.
  2. I wanted to visit their tree, a testament to the enticing scenes created among the branches.
  3. Yikes, Butcher Beasts and Bog Creeps. These monsters have their own agenda. Glad I was reading from an imaginative distance.
  4. Surprises at every turn keep the plot moving at a quick pace.
  5. A great ending that leads to many possibilities for Book 2: CASEY GRIMES AT TRICKERY SCHOOL.


As you may have guessed, I write books. I’m also a husband, dad, and lifetime tree-climber. My debut middle grade fantasy novel, The Mostly Invisible Boy, explores a world of forest secret societies, Hyena Toads and—obviously—invisibility. If you haven’t read it yet, you should probably be doing that right now instead of reading this bio. 

When I’m not writing, I’m usually fixing my house, coercing—ahem, politely asking my kids to pick up their rooms, or pursuing one of my too-many hobbies. 

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

For more be sure to visit AJ’s author website (see if you can find the hidden page!)


I love comments and hope you have the time to leave one below

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I’ve been wondering about Casey Grimes – The Mostly Invisible Boy and it sounds like a good one. Thanks for sharing and for hosting. Have a great week!

  2. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like a really intriguing story! I’m already wondering why Casey is mostly invisible. Also, I found the hidden page on the author’s website! Thanks for the great review!

  3. This fantasy world that features forest secret societies and an invisible boy, sounds completely engaging. The world building really grabs my attention in this novel and I’m so glad you shared it today! Will be looking for the book.

  4. Natalie Aguirre says:

    I love the idea of someone being invisible only at certain times. And this sounds like a real page turner. Thanks for letting us know about it. I’m going to try to find it at the library.

  5. First, I find the title very intriguing and the cover is great. Second, the little author statement makes me want to read whatever Vanderhorst has written. This sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for telling me about it.

  6. Sounds interesting. And the title is very intriguing.

  7. Ellie Rayner says:

    Great review, this one sounds interesting!

  8. Pingback: CASEY GRIMES at Trickery School | Always in the Middle…

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