Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Archibald Finch and the Lost Witches by Michel Guyon

 Archibald Finch and the Lost Witches by Michel Guyon
Format:  E-ARC
Publisher:  Andrews McMeel Publishing
Number of Pages:  352
Publishing:  October 19th, 2021 (1st published 10/8/18)
Source:  Edelweiss +

Opening Line:  "Three young girls are wandering through dark woodland."  

Eleven-year-old Archibald is admired by his teachers for his intelligence and called the teacher's pet by his classmates, other common names are dweeb, brownnoser or wimp for avoiding confrontations.  His older sister, Hailee seemingly tolerates Archibald.  A few days after being notified of their grandmother's funeral, their parents pack the family up and move them from London to their grandmother's manor in the countryside of Cuffley.  Archibald is unnerved by the creepy manor, the squeaky floors, drafty hallways and enormous amount of spiders and cobwebs.  Bartholomeo, the manors caretaker doesn't help ease Archibald's nerves.  Then one day while exploring for his Christmas present, Archibald happens upon what he believes to be his "special present" from his parents, a globe.  However,  this is no ordinary globe, there are ancient words, etches of strange combination of animals, where two animals are merged together as one and islands are on the globe in places that don't appear on any map that Archibald has ever seen.  Later that same night,  Archibald begins to twist and turn various components of the globe and he and part of his bedroom are absorbed into the globe to a secret world.  Meanwhile, Hailee is left reeling after witnessing her brother's mysterious disappearance in a flash of light and embarks on her own quest to try and find out what happened to him.

I've always been a huge fan of books set in old houses or manors, they contain so much history and nooks and crannies to explore.  The story of Archibald Finch and the Lost Witches is a portal fantasy with part of the story taking place in an ancient world filled with creatures called Marodore's comprised of part beast, part human and young witches that have been trapped for over 500 years.  The other portion of the story takes place with Hailee in Cuffley as she tries to piece together the clues of Archibald's disappearance.  It reminded me a lot of The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver and The Clockwork Crow by Catherine Fischer, in that both of the those stories involve a young girl going in search of their sibling and ending up in a new mysterious world.  Or maybe it's how Hailee feels to blame for her brothers disappearance, either way, each of these stories take you on an adventure into the unknown.  What I enjoyed the most about reading this book were the illustrations,  full page black and white ones depicting the Marodore's, the library of the manor and my favorite one of the bottles on the shelf in the antique shop.  So gorgeously detailed and add this mysterious atmospheric quality to the story that I absolutely loved.           

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