The Last Chance Hotel, by Nicki Thornton
This one is lovely – aimed at younger kids than Harry Potter and enjoyed by much older kids, like me. Seth is a put-upon kitchen boy at the eponymous hostelry, which is somewhere on the scale between a faded Grand Budapest and a nightmare Margate b&b with pretentions, when it pays host to a meeting of magicians. Soon there’s a murder and it turns into a locked room mystery, with magic. As you would expect in these things, Seth has a much richer background than he realises when it comes to magic and stuff, but the clues and rules of magic are fairly presented to the reader so that it’s a proper detective story too. Winner of the 2016 Times/Chicken House children’s fiction competition, where one of the judges was Chicken House’s Barry Cunningham (“the man who discovered JK Rowling”), and very deservingly so.