The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Release date: March 30, 2021
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 enjoyed the unique magic system in the book. It doesn’t seem that the people themselves are magical but the creatures that bond with them are. I liked that the higher-ranked Beasts choose their Lore Keeper – while the common but no less useful Beasts can be bonded with by essentially anyone. The unique magic and abilities each Beast can share with its Keeper was interesting. While Beasts don’t “level up” or “evolve” like Pokémon it reminded me of it. It also reminded me of Magic the Gathering – especially with the Beast ranks/rarity and the unique abilities each has.
Towards the start of the middle of the book, Barclay started giving me Harry Potter vibes. Deceased parents, hails from a town and background outside of “magic”, always on the wrong side of bullies (including a Malfoy-esque boy), bookish smart girl as a friend, only has “Elsie” money, gets a Mythic level Beast by accident (a special magical ability which made him stand out). Not quite the same kind of “chosen one” story The Accidental Apprentice was still an intriguing and wholesome story about a boy who never really fit in until he embraced what had happened to him. If you don’t like reading stories that share similarities with Harry Potter, this may not be a series for you.
Since this is the beginning of a series I felt like there was a little lack of world building but it wasn’t detrimental to the storyline. I do think we’ll see more of that with the other books in the series as Barclay and his friends grow and learn. There were a couple of twists in the book pertaining to characters that I didn’t expect and afterwards made a whole lot of sense with the events that happened. I am excited to see what becomes of Barclay and Root in the next book and I enjoyed The Accidental Apprentice more than enough to happily dig into the second book – whenever that releases.
I would recommend The Accidental Apprentice to readers who enjoy middle grade, fantasy, “chosen one” type books, books about learning to accept what makes you happy, possibly Pokémon, and Magic the Gathering. I would like to thank TBR and Beyond Tours, Amanda Foody, and Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster) for the opportunity to read an advance copy of The Accidental Apprentice – all opinions are my own.
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.