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#Flashback Friday #Archibald Finch and the Lost Witches by Michel Guyon (Narrated by Steve Hendrickson) #Magic Portal Fantasy @Andrews McMeel Publishing

From the blurb:

History, magic, and adventure collide in this riveting middle-grade fantasy novel about an unusual boy who unlocks an ancient relic—and with it, a forgotten world. Befriended by a band of young witches, Archibald Finch must quickly adapt to survive in Lemurea, where a battle born in the Middle Ages is still unfolding . . . 

Archibald is a risk-averse boy with quirks that earn him plenty of eye-rolls, especially from his older sister, Hailee. Things get worse when his parents move the family from London to his grandmother’s creepy manor in the English countryside. Now he has to deal with hairless dolls in the library, weird stone creatures on the roof, and a spooky forest at the edge of the backyard. But these turn out to be the least of Archibald’s problems . . . 

One day, as he’s exploring the cavernous house, he finds a curious globe that whisks him away to a secret world, hidden for 500 years. Archibald finds himself on a thrilling adventure full of medieval magic, mysterious symbols, and the strangest beasts, while Hailee—who witnessed her brother’s disappearance—embarks on a daring quest to find him. 

9-12 y.o.

Publication Date: October 19, 2021

Publisher: Andrews McMeel

352 pages

9781524867720, 1524867721

Juvenile Fiction / Fantasy & Magic

My thoughts:
I loved this magical adventure so much that after listening to an advanced copy, I went on to buy my own copy. This proved to be an excellent decision because the illustrations are absolutely marvellous and add so much to this already fascinating story.
After the funeral of his much loved grandmother Celestine (although Archie does have a bone to pick with her- she was the one responsible for giving him his rare and old-fashioned name!), eleven-year-old Archibald and his family. move into a mansion in a small town half an hour away from London. Archibald is a nerdy (he literally knows every single thing his teachers ask him and has no idea how or why), but confident and adventurous kid and he starts exploring his new home straightaway. This is how he finds an odd object that looks like an antique globe, which transports him into a magical world populated by strange looking ferocious beasts and … kind and resourceful tween and teenage girls who turn out to be witches.

At this point the story splits into two, as Archibald’s thirteen-year-old sister Hailee launches her own investigation, helped by an antique dealer’s son Oliver, and together they will do everything possible to save the world from mysterious villains (religious fanatics and witchhunters?) and bring Archie back home.

Archibald is thrown into his adventure and has to hit the ground running. Luckily for him, he is a strong and, I daresay, opinionated character. I loved the supporting characters of witches, especially down-to-earth Faeryday, who manages to expand Archie’s already impressive vocabulary (I sure didn’t know what a topiary was at Archie’s age) by teaching him endless archaic synonyms for common insults. The second plotline was even better as you can see Hailee go through so much development- she stole the show for me.

I liked the concept of a globe as a magic portal and the magic system of using stone golems as ingredients for a limitless range of new, situation-specific spells.
Steve Hendrickson does a wonderful job as the narrator. He had me hooked on the story from the word go until the last minute. A perfect audio version for 9-12 year-olds.

Can’t wait to read and listen to the sequel Archibald Finch and The Curse of the Phoenix which is coming out in May 2023.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy, provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

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