Title: The Accidental Apprentice | Author: Amanda Foody | Series: Wilderlore #1 |Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books | Genre: Middlegrade Fantasy | 304 pages
What a book. What a book! I was so happy to read this book and even now that I have more or less collected my thoughts about it, I still feel rambly and bubbly and warm about it.
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.
Let’s start by me saying that I’m absolutely in love with this book. It was actually a book that I preordered and that I just hoped that I would like – what I got on the other hand was a book that I fell completely in love with and that I read at night until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and that I finished the following morning right after I woke up.
Barclay Throne is not an adventurer – far from it. He even spends most of the time, even when he’s already smack in the middle of one, to avoid and get out of it. When you read about it like this, you would probably be intrigued and maybe even annoyed by the idea. Don’t most of us wish for an adventure or an epic quest most our lives? And there is a character who gets an adventure and doesn’t want it? It sounds weird and maybe even annoying. That’s what made my forehead break out in wrinkles anyway.
But the more I read about Barclay, about his reasons for why he desperately tried to avoid all adventure or rulebreaking and why he wanted to become a mushroom farmer of all things (which, to be honest, sounds equally interesting and also dull to me), the more I could get behind his reasoning. My heart hurt for him because I felt I understood him so well. I loved how this character grew and how he slowly accepted his role in it all and how he started to trust the people around him. It makes for a great beginning of a beautiful Found Family story. And don’t we all love that?
The setting is amazing. Amanda Foody has a great talent for making the Woods and the villages come to life and I pretty much felt like I was standing there side by side with Barclay and his friends, surrounded by knotty, enormous trees and between run down, ramshackled houses.
The worldbuilding is great. Not only the Beats and the Lorekeepers and the Wilds but even the dull little village Barclay comes from intrigued me. I loved (to hate) how all the people there were just so narrowminded and ruleabiding and how hard Barclay tried anyway.
But the most amazing thing are, of couse, the Beasts. Wild magical beings that form bonds with a Lorekeeper and lend them their magic. It’s incredible and thrilling and I want one of my own. Maybe ten. I have seen the comparison before but really, what came to mind when I read it really was Pokémon and How to train your dragon. I loved the different classes of Beasts and how they are bonded with the Lorekeepers. I loved the different species. There are some that resemble animals but also others, twisted beings that were terrifying and creepy.
In this book we follow a very, very reluctant hero that is thrown into a world and a life that he doesn’t want and that he tries to escape badly. It’s a story about belonging and about finding your place in the world. It’s also has an important and intesting message. What you want might not always be what you need. I think it’s a great message and while Barclay might feel a little annoying and ungrateful for what he got at times, I understood his motivations and was happy to follow him through the progress of the story.
In conclusion, I wanna stretch again how much fun it was to read this book and how much I adored it. I loved the characters, I loved the Beasts, I loved the setting and the anthagonists and the story itself. I raced through this book, always hungry for more, and the only question I have now is: When will I get the next book?