Interview with the Author of Silent Lee in Kirkus!

Alex Hiam’s studio is in a black barn shaded by hemlock trees and full of old paintings from his favorite time period, the late 1800s and early 1900s, so it’s no surprise that turn-of-the-Century Boston is featured in his latest magical tale for teen readers. Alex grew up in and around Boston and majored in anthropology at Harvard College, where he also wrote and illustrated articles about natural history, and won the English Department’s Arnold Prize. But the honor he is most proud of was being entrusted as a student with the key to the iron gates of Mount Auburn Cemetery, where…


“Enchanting! I love the concept of this book. The idea of a ‘front door world’ which is modern and mundane, contrasted with the magic to be found through a little side door, is absolutely wonderful and I really enjoyed the characters of Silent and Aunt Gen and their adventures thwarting sinister government agents (not to mention the hilarious acronyms). We are left with lots of hints of mysteries to be unfolded and I look forward to the next book.” – S. J. Howland, author of The Traveller’s Stone

“The Harry Potter–like Sie is intelligent and resourceful—she is determined to find out what happened to her beloved great aunt and devoted to her spellcasting studies—and Raahi is an appealing, affable sidekick… the novel is short, digestible, and adventurous but not too dark, ideal for teens transitioning to middle-grade novels.”
KIRKUS REVIEW, February 4, 2020

“A quick and fun read that plenty of young adult and even advanced younger readers will enjoy.”
Check out this fun review of Silent Lee by Katherine Kleffner:

“This was such a fun read!” Dr. Beth Nolan, Beths Book-nook Blog. Full review here:

“Alex Hiam has begun a fascinating, fun, and original new series for middle grade readers featuring a smart and sassy 15 year old protagonist who is sure to appeal.” – It’s All About the Book. Full review here:

“I loved the characters, both lead and supporting…and even those that were surprise leads in their own way. I loved the magic because hello….MAGIC! Oh, excuse me…technically it’s alchemy, but it’s COOL nonetheless…and that birdcage was so neat!”  Full review here:

“With his setting in Boston, where the old and new live side by side, Hiam’s narrative skills immediately envelope young teen readers into his fantasy tale as easily as Silent Lee slips in and out of the centuries.” Full review here:

“A unique, fun story with quirky characters that I think will appeal to many younger readers.” Read the entire review here:

“Fans of this light but truly spellbinding novel will be glad to learn that a sequel is promised, Silent Lee and the Oxford Adventure.” Read the entire review here:

“If your tweenager likes mysteries, then check out this first in a series where an unlikely pair of accidental sleuths move between the magical world and the current world as they uncover the disappearance of Silent Lee’s aunt…A fun and easy read.” Read the entire review here:

“In summary, this was such an unexpectedly good read! So curious, and strange, and unique, and just the perfect way to escape for a bit of afternoon reading with the promise of more to come…” Read the entire review here:

Midwest Book Review recommends Silent Lee! Read the entire review here:

Silent Lee and the Adventure of the Side Door Key

The busy streets of Boston’s Back Bay conceal another city, one that is a hundred years older, and quite full of magic. Silent (Sie to her friends from the Girls’ Academy of Latin and Magic) travels between the two Bostons daily. But her secret door is the target of a special branch of the CIA that won’t stop until they’ve gotten hold of her key…

Silent Lee and the Oxford Adventure

Silent has just started ninth grade at the Girls Academy of Latin and Alchemy and her co-adventurer, Raahi, is now attending the Boys’ Academy of Alchemy and Magic. Both schools are located through the magical side door in Great Aunt Gen’s Back Bay house. Fortunately, the magically old fashioned version of Boston through that side door is far less sexist and racist than ‘our’ Boston was a hundred years ago—but there are a great many other dangers awaiting our intrepid duo this semester!
Webster Press receives a 2020 Independent Book Publisher’s Association Silver Medal award for Silent Lee and the Adventure of the Side Door Key in the Young Reader, Fiction category.


Silent Lee is now stocked in more than seventy BOOKSTORES! See the full list under the Bookstores tab to find one near you, or order from your local indi store, thanks!

To purchase anywhere in the world through Book Depository (which doesn’t add expensive shipping fees for outside of the US orders):

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To read an ebook / Kindle edition:

To order on IndieBound or to find the nearest Independent Bookstore with a copy:


Alex Hiam on Instagram

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