The Accidental Apprentice (Wilderlore #1)
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Age Group: 8+
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’d like to thank Simon & Schuster, Amanda Foody and TBR and Beyond Tours for providing me with a finished copy of this book. My review is completely honest.
I’m such a big lover of Amanda’s books since I got an early copy of her stand-alone Daughter of the Burning City. So, I was super excited to see her take a leap in a new direction with her first middle grade series! She hit this one out of the park.
We meet Barclay Thorne as a mushroom farmer in Dullshire, where there’s rules around every corner for people to follow. He doesn’t fit into the average towns-person thanks to his eccentric hair and dirty nails, but he tries his best to follow the rules. That is, until he breaks one by entering the forbidden Woods. Unexpectedly, he bonds with a Beast and is swept into a world of what is known as Lore Keepers. Barclay just wants to return to normal, but that may be harder than he thinks.
Let me put it this way. If you’re looking for a replacement for Harry Potter for yourself or your children, this first book in what definitely has the potential to be a long term series is the one to pick up. Barclay is such a likable character and someone that kids can look up to. As every other human in the world, Barclay just wants to fit in but he also wants to be himself. What may be considered “rebellious” is just what every child grows up to have: the hunger for adventure. Even if Barclay doesn’t know it in the beginning for himself. There’s also a great friendship formed with Viola and I really liked her character. Her personality with Barclay’s really pairs well.
The world building and the story behind everything was absolutely wonderful. I really liked how everything was explained, but not so much where it can overwhelm the reader. The details of becoming a Lore Keeper – bonding with a Beast, five classes of Beasts, literally living inside the Lore Keeper – it was really fascinating. I can tell how much thought and heart Amanda put into her world building and really gave the Beasts their own personality and care.
For kids and even other readers of all ages, this new series is going to be such a good fit if you crave fantasy and something familiar that can tug at your reader’s heart. I certainly can’t wait to introduce my child (when he is old enough, of course) to this series because I know he will love it as much as I loved the first book. Here’s to many more books with Barclay to come!
About 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.