A boy who accidentally bonds with a magical Beast must set off on an adventure in the mysterious Woods in this whimsical and cheeky middle grade fantasy debut—perfect for fans of Nevermoor and How to Train Your Dragon.
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 am always into middle grade adventure stories, especially when they are fantasy based so I was super excited to get my hands on this one. I really enjoyed the aspect of Barclay not wanting to be a hero or have an adventurous life, it was a nice twist to the typically adventure story. I also really loved the world that Amanda Foody created and in many ways felt like a lot of the settings, based on the way she described them, could be imagined easily. That being said though, I think it was the perfect amount of world building and imagery for the target audience of younger readers and I think a lot of readers would be able to identify with at least one of the characters in the story. I couldn’t put this one down and am eagerly hoping I get to pick up any future books written in this world.
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.
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