cover image The Accidental Apprentice (Wilderlore #1)

The Accidental Apprentice (Wilderlore #1)

Amanda Foody. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7756-8

Orphaned at four when the Legendary Beast Gravaldor destroyed his village, pale-skinned Barclay Thorne, 11, hates the Beasts that haunt the Woods beyond Dullshire, as well as the Lore Keepers who bond with them. When Barclay inadvertently bonds with a rare and powerful Beast, he’s horrified—and worse, exiled from Dullshire. Determined to remove the bond, Barclay journeys to a Lore Keeper town in the Woods with brown-skinned Viola, a young woman bonded to a dragon-like Beast. There, a Lore Keeper promises to teach Barclay to break his bond, if he places first in a contest of skill and knowledge for aspiring apprentice Lore Keepers. The plot carefully builds in complexity, driven equally by well integrated, inventive worldbuilding and evolving character dynamics. Barclay’s growing identification with his Beast is complicated by years of hatred, mirroring his relationship to the larger world of Lore Keepers, and the supporting cast likewise have their own nuanced characterizations and motivations. Interweaving whimsicality with harsh realities, Foody’s (Queen of Volts) middle grade debut introduces a richly realized fantasy world, populated by monsters both magnificently unknowable and all too human. A deeply immersive and auspicious series starter. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Whitney Ross, Irene Goodman Literary. (Mar.) [/em]