The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody
Publication Date: March 30, 2021
Summary from NetGalley:
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.
ARC provided by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing via Netgalley for an honest review.
I loved this story. It was so full of heart and adventure and the world building was marvelous too. I think kids are going to take to this and be clamoring for the next installment as soon as they close the book.
Barclay was a wonderful character. He is determined to do the right thing and follow the rules, even when he knows his heart isn’t really in it. He just wants to find a place where he belongs, even if others don’t always appreciate him. He has always been told that the beasts who live in the forrest are dangerous as are the Lore Keepers who live there. So when he finds himself bonded to a beast he becomes determined to get rid of it. Barclay really struggles with this decision though. He often finds himself relying on the beast and the magic that their relationship gives him. But he makes some friends and has some great adventures on the way to finding his true self.
The story is well done and of course the world building is perfect. I loved all of the different beasts and the different levels of danger and magic they represent. There is a lot of battle scenes in which strength does not always win over smarts and ingenuity. There is of course some evil shenanigans amongst the adult Lore Keepers that the children must defend themselves from and save the world from. But it is all done with a lot of heart and warmth and some humor too.
If you are a fan of Amanda Foody’s YA books, then I am sure this one will delight you as well. I know that kids will love it and I can’t wait to get it into my library and into kids hands.