The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody
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.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EXPECTED MARCH 30TH, 2021
In Dullshire, adventures are against the rules, and Barclay Thorne tries so hard to follow the rules.
He already sticks out like a sore thumb in town. An orphan after a Beast attacked Dullshire seven years ago, he’s had to work to secure any hope for a future. Thankfully, as apprentice to the town’s mushroom farmer, he’s got something going for him. Even if Barclay isn’t allowed to get dirt under his nails or run through the streets, he still has somewhere to sleep and warm meals to eat.
Except Barclay accidentally bonds with a Beast, and life as he understands it falls away. Forced to come face to face with Lore and Lore Keepers, Barclay must navigate an entirely new life in order to reclaim his old one. But for all the danger both ahead and behind, there lies a choice: does he even want his old life anymore?
Or is it time to break the rules, and go on an adventure?
The Accidental Apprentice is a little bit of HTTYD, a little bit of Pokémon, and a whole lot of fun!
From the start, I knew I was going to adore this book. It combines magical beasts with a new world to explore, along with a reluctant hero. Seriously, I’m not kidding when I compare it to How to Train Your Dragon and the Pokémon franchise. If you love one of those, or both, or you know a kid who does, then this book is going to be a smash hit for you!
There’s something so whimsical and charming about Barclay Thorne and his new friend, Viola Dumont. Together, they sometimes pick at each other, but they also make an outstanding team in the face of bullies, Beasts, and a danger that threatens the balance of all the Lore in the Woods. Plus, they’re kids! At eleven years old, they’re fresh and bright and ready for adventure (even if they don’t think they are).
They’re also maybe a little too trusting and impulsive, but it’s sweet and endearing, and absolutely perfect for a middle grade book.
Really, the amount of charm in this book is outrageous, and I can’t recommend it enough based on that alone. It will steal your heart, and you won’t even want to ask for it back!
But if you need more detail, know this: the Beasts are amazing.
Yes, Barclay Thorne is a great MG protagonist! But I have to shoutout all the work Amanda Foody has done with the Beasts. My ARC included a little glossary of Beasts at the end, which included some fun facts about Beasts we didn’t interact with very much on the page. Hopefully, the final copy will include some art as well, because I’d love to see these Beasts imagined in a visual format.
There are multiple classes of Beasts, though, rated based on their magical capabilities and danger levels. Ranging from common and relatively harmless to outright legendary and only bonded with in tall tales, they form an important cornerstone to the lives of Lore Keepers, even dictating how their world works. Apprenticeships and shopping trips and sports and more are shaped around the inclusion of Beasts in everyday life, and my Pokémon-loving heart has been fawning over these inclusions since I started reading the book.
Yes, I want to see how your tiny mushroom-shaped friend helps you sleep better at night! Yes, show me how your tiny dragon pal is a vegetarian who helps you find shiny things and protect you and your friends!
Long story short, the inclusion of Beasts in the everyday lives of Lore Keepers feels incredibly organic and lively. It’s rekindled my childhood wish that Pokémon were real (did I ever let go of that wish? probably not), and it also makes me want a full Beast glossary in future Wilderlore books. Please show me all the new friends! Teach me about all the Lore legends!
All you have to do is love a little bit of adventure, and The Accidental Apprentice will do the rest.
I promise, it’s not hard at all to love this book. And if you’re still teetering on the edge, may I tempt you by mentioning there are cute little mushroom illustrations inside as chapter dividers? A good, cute mushroom is an important factor.
In all seriousness, though, I hope you pick up The Accidental Apprentice. It hits shelves on March 30th, only a couple weeks from now, and it shows an incredible amount of promise for kids everywhere! Not that you have to be a kid to read it, of course. I think there are a lot of adults, especially those of us who grew up playing Pokémon, that will easily find room for The Accidental Apprentice and all its eccentricities in our hearts. 💚🧡
CW: loss of a loved one, violence