I was very excited when I heard that Darren Shan has a new series out featuring a young locksmith called Archibald Lox. I first discovered Shan's Lord Loss on the YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers in 2006 and loved how gory and incredibly addictive it was.
The great news for a self-isolating world is that Shan has released all three books in volume 1 of the Archibald Lox series and the first book Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds is currently available for free - see DarrenShan.com.
Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds opens with Archie and his family in a state of grief, shocked at the recent loss of Archie's foster brother Dave. Unable to face another day at school, Archie bunks school and lands up in central London. There he witnesses a young girl being chased by axe and knife-wielding murderers before she disappears. It is at this moment that Archie discovers a whole new universe parallel to our own, a dangerous and fantastical place known as the Merge. Here he discovers that he is a locksmith, equipped with a unique skill that allows him to traverse the Merge and access secret portals.
Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds is a perfect middle grade book. It has a beautiful cover and an alluring title with the promise of high adventure. Most importantly? I couldn't put it down and read it in almost one sitting, starting last night and finishing at 5am this morning (I did grab some sleep in between).
I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record but I'm just so damn grateful these days to find a book that grabs my attention from the very first page and manages to keep it long enough for me to actually finish the book. That's not to say there are too few good books out there, it's just that there is too much reality in the world at the moment and I can't concentrate on much.
For grabbing my attention from the very first page and making me excited about a series for the first time in ages, I give Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds a superb five out of five stars. I would highly recommend to fans of Harry Potter, Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series and William Nicholson's Wind on Fire series.