Author: D.D. Everest
Published by: HarperCollins on April 21, 2014 (first printing)
On his twelfth birthday, Archie Greene receives a mysterious package from a man he has never met, a package containing an ancient book in a language he doesn’t recognize. The gift leads him to a family he didn’t know he had and a world he never knew existed.
Soon Archie becomes a bookbinding apprentice to the Flame Keepers, a secret group devoted to finding and preserving magical books at the Museum of Magical Miscellany. With the help of his cousins, Bramble and Thistle, Archie tries to unravel the mystery behind his book, but he begins to realize that his gift is something more powerful than he could have imagined. And the only thing more perilous than its contents is being its owner.
The book waited 400 years for Archie Greene. Now Archie must discover why.
I found this book in the dollar store and I just couldn’t resist. I mean for a dollar how bad could it be?
At first I thought this book was at the dollar store because it didn’t sell well and maybe the publisher’s had a huge unsold stock of them. But after doing a little research I learned this book has actually been published all over the world (which I’m assuming means it sold well?). I think it’s a somewhat foreign book, possibly published in the UK first.
The premise sounds interesting enough and the title lends itself to a series, so I guess we shall see how it goes.
I want to say that for being a dollar this was a good book, but I think this would be a worthwhile read even for full price. The title and the book summary kind of make it seem like it’s going to be Harry Potter-esque, but it’s not. When Harry goes to Hogwarts it feels like he’s been transported to a completely new universe. Archie Greene’s world is a little less immersive, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The world-building is decent and it is interesting reading about the history of magic books, but it’s not quite a world that will suck you in.
To be honest, this book is basically about fancy librarians. They collect, catalogue, and repair magic books. Those who do that are called magicians though they likely won’t resemble the type of magicians you are used to. These magicians won’t be throwing around fireballs or talking to animals. But don’t let that fool you! Danger still lurks close by. The story isn’t action-packed in the traditional sense and I wouldn’t say there was any nail-biting suspense, but the story is still interesting enough. The beginning moved at a nice quick pace. Sometimes books like these take too long to build up the world but this one was able to establish the magical elements in a world that resembles our own.
I wasn’t crazy about the final “battle” scene because it involved the stereotypical hostage situation where the hero has to choose between unleashing an ultimate evil and the life of a loved one. I’m not crazy about these types of situations because it’s a no-win situation. And I feel like, no matter what the hero chooses I, as the reader, will be unhappy. As you probably guessed, Archie manages to outsmart the evil guy and gets to save the world and his cousin’s lives. Still, I’ve seen the situation done so many times and I dislike it enough that even when everything’s resolved I wish the battle had gone in a different direction.
I thought one of the better aspects of the book was Archie’s new family. I enjoyed how he bonded with his new cousins and it was a nice change that they weren’t against him. In these type of stories where your talent is based upon your birth it’s easy for others, especially family members, to become jealous. So when Archie reveals to his cousins that he has a special talent that no one has seen in centuries I was relieved they didn’t become jealous of him and start to ostracize him. Throughout the story, I enjoyed watching Archie bond with his cousins.
Overall, I liked the book and would definitely recommend it to children 9-12 years. In the end there’s a bit of teaser to a future story so when finishing this book I had a desire to read the seque