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Title: The Accidental Apprentice
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Genres: MG Fantasy
A boy who accidentally bonds with a magical Beast must set off on an adventure in the mysterious Woods.
The last thing Barclay Thorne ever wanted was an adventure.
Thankfully, as an apprentice to the town’s mushroom farmer, Barclay need only work hard and follow the rules to one day become the head mushroom farmer himself. No danger required. But then Barclay accidentally breaks his town’s most sacred rule: never ever EVER stray into the Woods, for within the Woods lurk vicious magical Beasts.
To Barclay’s horror, he faces a fate far worse than being eaten: he unwittingly bonds with a Beast and is run out of town by an angry mob. Determined to break this bond and return home, Barclay journeys to find the mysterious town of Lore Keepers, people who have also bonded with Beasts and share their powers.
But after making new friends, entering a dangerous apprenticeship exam, and even facing the legendary Beast of the Woods, Barclay must make a difficult choice: return to the home and rules he’s always known, or embrace the adventure awaiting him.
I really enjoyed exploring this new and fun middle grade fantasy world that deals with magical creature companions and all sorts of other magics. The writing is super fun and immersive, and the characters had strong voices as well as strong motivations for why they do things.
Barclay, our main character, very much does not want anything to do with magic because of a traumatic experience as a child. But he is unwillingly thrust in the midst of it all as he accidentally bonds with one of the magical creatures and in order to break the bond, he must enter a magical apprentice competition. The competition was super fun and unique as well as exciting. I felt the author had a strong handle on Barclay’s voice, and I liked how good he was at some things, despite not wanting anything to do with the world. And honestly, that was my main struggle with the story. It made it harder to enjoy the world when the main character didn’t want anything to do with it. But it made me excited when he was finally warming up to everything (though that is very slow burn).
The other characters are fun and have a lot of depth to them as well. One character I suspected would be a main antagonist ended up being an ally, and I really liked that. The villain was pretty one-dimensional, but I felt that left room for more depth in future villains to come.
This is a fun middle grade fantasy that I think young readers of fantasy will really enjoy.
Meet the Author
Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After a double life as an accountant preparing taxes for multinational corporations, she now spends her free time brewing and fermenting foods much more easily obtained at her local grocery store. She lives in Boston, MA with a hoard of books guarded by the most vicious of feline companions, Jelly Bean.
Her books include The Shadow Game series and more. Her middle grade debut, Wilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice, hits shelves March 30, 2021, and her next YA novel, All of Us Villains, co-authored with Christine Lynn Herman, releases on November 9, 2021.