Archimancy

Archimancy

The first book in a middle grade series that introduces three friends and their quest to unravel the secrets of Shadow School, a strange middle school in New Hampshire, from the acclaimed author of Nightbooks and the Thickety series, J. A. White. Perfect for fans of Stranger Things, Neil Gaiman, and Adam Gidwitz.Cordelia Liu knew Shadow School was going to be different. Bl...

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Title:Archimancy
Author:J.A. White
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Archimancy Reviews

  • Pop Bop

    A Thoughtful and Engaging Ghost-Adventure Story

    The genius underlying J.A. White's books is that he establishes a scary premise, puts a smart and resourceful hero in the middle of it, and then allows that hero or heroine to think, reason, and act bravely and creatively in order to overcome the threat. In the "Thickety" series our heroine must enter and subdue the dark woods and the witchcraft within. "In "Nightbooks" the hero is tricked into a witch's lair and has to plot his way out.

    In this book

    A Thoughtful and Engaging Ghost-Adventure Story

    The genius underlying J.A. White's books is that he establishes a scary premise, puts a smart and resourceful hero in the middle of it, and then allows that hero or heroine to think, reason, and act bravely and creatively in order to overcome the threat. In the "Thickety" series our heroine must enter and subdue the dark woods and the witchcraft within. "In "Nightbooks" the hero is tricked into a witch's lair and has to plot his way out.

    In this book our heroine finds herself in a private school in a gloomy mansion that's populated by ghosts that only she and one other strange student can see. The pleasure here is in watching our heroine's growing realization about what's going on, and then following her and her mates as they come up with a plan of action. If ever there was one, this is a thinking middle grader's ghost story, with decency and smartz, rather than terror or combat, as its major chord.

    Claudia has been forced by family circumstances to move from sunny California to gloomy New Hampshire and the "Elijah Shadow School". She isn't happy and she starts out as a real pill. But she's basically a fair and level headed person, so we know she'll come around. Her first strong move is befriending Agnes, a lonely supersmart girl who is given a cold shoulder by less gifted students, and who is puppy dog eager to have a friend. The way that sad Claudia and lonely Agnes bond is touching, and gives both characters the heft and richness and sympathy that is often simply absent in school ghost stories. (All of White's heroes and heroines come "warts and all", and it's satisfying, and sneakily instructive, to see them change and mature during the course of their adventures.)

    Claudia can see the ghosts that infest the school. Agnes can't and it appears no one else can, except for Benji. Benji can see, and fears, the ghosts and starts out in the book as changed from popular guy to walking exposed nerve. He is gently drawn out and drawn in to Claudia and Agnes' circle. Once the team has been composed, the tale takes off at speed.

    NO SPOILERS. But, there are lots of twists and turns, and lots of unexpected interactions with the ghosts. The ghosts are lost or trapped souls, and the interactions run the gamut from melancholy to charmingly upbeat. When it comes to witches, ghouls, monsters, and ghosts, White has a great facility for making them more complex and sympathetic presences, rather than just plot devices or bits of ectoplasmic terror. This tempered and oddly kind approach gives the ghosts, the story, the plot twists, and even our heroes much more weight and dignity than you would ever expect from a book that feels like it's supposed to be just a school sized ghost story.

    So, this ended up being a coming of age story, a friendship tale, a bit of a family drama, and an action-adventure thriller, all wrapped up in an engagingly complex and thoughtful ghosty backstory. Loaded to the brim with treats and rewards, this was a very happy find.

    (Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

  • Pat Brown

    I won an Advance Reader's Edition through goodreads. I really enjoyed this middle grade novel. It was creepy without being overly scary. The characters were well-developed and a twist at the end required a tissue! Since the spine says Book One, I'm assuming there will be more books which I look forward to.

  • Carina Olsen

    I have been a fan of this author for many years now. I loved his first fantasy series beyond words. And will always read his new books. I was a little nervous about this new one, as I'm more of a fantasy person, and do not read many books set in present time. Yet I was excited too. And ended up liking it a bunch. Four stars.

    Archimancy was a quick and fun read. I had a small issue getting into it at the beginning, but that did not last long, and I ended up enjoying everything a whole lot. While I

    I have been a fan of this author for many years now. I loved his first fantasy series beyond words. And will always read his new books. I was a little nervous about this new one, as I'm more of a fantasy person, and do not read many books set in present time. Yet I was excited too. And ended up liking it a bunch. Four stars.

    Archimancy was a quick and fun read. I had a small issue getting into it at the beginning, but that did not last long, and I ended up enjoying everything a whole lot. While I didn't fully love the book, it was pretty much adorable, and I'm so very excited about more books coming about these characters. The ending was too soon.

    This first book is written from the point of view of eleven year old Cordelia. The summer before a new school year begins, she and her parents had to move from their town, hours away. So she is now starting a new school, with no friends. Cordelia is not happy about this move at all. And she spends a lot of the book unhappy about it, yet also slowly growing to love her school and liking the town too and especially the people in it. And I liked that a whole lot. And I also enjoyed getting to know Cordelia, as she was adorable. Kind and sweet, yet a bit rude too. I loved how quickly she became friends with Agnes, the girl everyone else treated badly. I loved how she went out of her way to get to talk to Benji too, a boy who was ignoring everyone. I adored their friendship.

    This is a book about ghosts. How Cordelia starts her new school, which is this huge ancient place that is all kinds of creepy and awesome. And once there, she hears a little boy crying. When she tries to touch him, her hand goes through him. Which freaks her out for a bit. She then also start seeing more than one ghost. I shall not mention more about it, since this book felt so short, maybe because of how fast I read it. But though short, it was still full of great things. And I enjoyed reading all of it. It's full of awesome ghosts.

    This book is about Cordelia. And getting to know her. And her getting to know the ghosts of her school. It was interesting to get to know the history of it all, learning why there are ghosts there, and learning how it was possible to help them. Cordelia is the only person who can see the ghosts. Until she notices another boy who can too; Benji. I have already mentioned this, but gosh, I adored her friendship with Agnes and Benji. They became fast friends and were awesome together. Shipped Cordelia and Benji so much, haha.

    There is not really all that much I can share about this book. And so I shall not write such a long review. Only sharing that I enjoyed it a whole lot and that I am very much excited about more books. And hoping they will all be about the same characters too, as I need more of them all. I do wish this book had been more scary, haha, yet I was happy with how it was written too. Getting to know Cordelia and her friends was the best. I wish to know even more about all of them, though. And I want even more ghosts as well.

    One thing that I did not like much about this book, was that it's so short, and it takes place over an entire school year. I felt like maybe it could have happened faster, without all the time jumps. Yet I also like that they are all older now, but yeah. The time jumps didn't need to be there. I also wish there had been even more friendship scenes with Cordelia and Agnes and Benji. As they were the cutest together. But I did not really dislike anything in this book. Only small things I had issues with. The rest of this one was awesome.

    Archimancy was an incredible first book in a new series. Full of fun and friendship and ghosts. I adored all of the characters. And I found the writing to be pretty amazing too. While I do not care much for books set in the present, I did not mind much in this one. Probably because of the creepy school and all the ghosts, haha. This book is not out until August of next year, which is still months away. But couldn't resist reading it early. Huge thank you to Harper for the auto-approval on Edelweiss. You all must read this one as well.

    ---

    This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here:

  • Chayse Sundt

    Review to Come!

  • Angie

    I received a free advanced reader’s copy from ... I think it was Edelweiss? 🤔🤨 But I would have looked for this either way because I super enjoyed The Thickety.

    Spooky! Best for strong 4th grade and up. I believe this releases in August? The problem with getting early access is you have to wait that much longer for the next one! 🤪

  • hallie bertling

    i love j.a. white's books!

    he has such a way with witty kid dialogue and funny banter-- and always has the right balance of adventure and danger and mystery. and of course a healthy dose of the supernatural.

    i won an ARC of shadow school: archimancy on instagram, and am really grateful to katherine tegen books & harper collins for letting me read it early!!

    i loved the premise of only-child cordelia being thrown into a new school. (being an only child & a navy brat myself, boy do i know wha

    i love j.a. white's books!

    he has such a way with witty kid dialogue and funny banter-- and always has the right balance of adventure and danger and mystery. and of course a healthy dose of the supernatural.

    i won an ARC of shadow school: archimancy on instagram, and am really grateful to katherine tegen books & harper collins for letting me read it early!!

    i loved the premise of only-child cordelia being thrown into a new school. (being an only child & a navy brat myself, boy do i know what it's like to start over on the other side of the country and trying to muster enough energy to find new friends at an awkward and confusing school!) i love the two-girls and a boy main character troupe. i loved our diverse cast. & our maybe-not-trustworthy eclectic cast of grown*ups at a very (eep! haunted!) school.

    full of real-kid drama in a heightened surrounding will bring the reality of triumphs and pains of the tough middle school years into an encouraging, achievable realm for young readers.

    i enjoyed every page and didn't wait to keep on to the next chapter.

  • Jennifer Hill

    Cordelia's family has to move all the way from California to Vermont. Her new school looks like a haunted house: black iron gates, freaky paintings, weird hallways that don't make sense. As she is hiding out in the gym, she hears someone crying under the bleachers, it's a little boy. But as she tries to help him, she realizes he is a ghost! Then she finds out another student, Benji, can see ghosts too. They begin to realize the ghosts are trapped and they can set them free if they can figure out

    Cordelia's family has to move all the way from California to Vermont. Her new school looks like a haunted house: black iron gates, freaky paintings, weird hallways that don't make sense. As she is hiding out in the gym, she hears someone crying under the bleachers, it's a little boy. But as she tries to help him, she realizes he is a ghost! Then she finds out another student, Benji, can see ghosts too. They begin to realize the ghosts are trapped and they can set them free if they can figure out what the ghost is looking for/ missing. It is the key to releasing them. Together the two of them with their friend, Agnes (who can't see ghosts), begin to realize something weird is going on at school with the ghosts, they are being erased a little at a time. They begin a journey to figure out what is going on before the little ghost boy is erased.

    Super duper spooky, JA White has done it again! If you love spooky ghost stories, this one is for you!

  • Maggie

    3.5 stars

  • Ollie

    I received an arc of this from a random instagram giveaway by katherine tegen books.

    The most interesting part of this story was the ending action scenes with lenny, whistler, and geist which was around page 260..... Out of 291. They needed to be introduced way earlier in the story so the reader has a conflict thread to stay invested, like page 20.

    I also really disliked how there was an out. Every. Single. Time. The writing was easy to digest, not dense, which is perfect for middle grade readers,

    I received an arc of this from a random instagram giveaway by katherine tegen books.

    The most interesting part of this story was the ending action scenes with lenny, whistler, and geist which was around page 260..... Out of 291. They needed to be introduced way earlier in the story so the reader has a conflict thread to stay invested, like page 20.

    I also really disliked how there was an out. Every. Single. Time. The writing was easy to digest, not dense, which is perfect for middle grade readers, but the plot also progressed far too easily. There was always a ready explanation or exit for the kids to jump to.

    The infodumping from page three was pretty rough too, which also lends to to the easy outs that were consistent throughout. Middle graders aren't dumb. They can figure things out from context clues. Having miranda explain the school's entire financial history on page ten was unnecessary if the principal was going to give the same spiel when cordelia skipped class two chapters later. Also, eleven year olds don't really care about finances.

    I also disliked how it felt like i was being talked down to the first 60% of the book. The characters felt like archetypes being made fun of, like super smart agnes and her google docs spreadsheets, who basically didn't do anything to move the plot, and phrases like "some kind of stupid boy thing that would only get him in trouble." Pointing out everyone's race except agnes's (because she has blonde hair, we all know what race blonde people are) was a bit eugh too. Felt like white was just doing that for diversity brownie points.

    This feels remarkably like a draft. Not the most disastrous thing I've ever read, but it needs a lot more work to be truly spectacular. As lovely as the cover and synopsis seem, i doubt i'd let a middle grade reader go into this blind in this current version, if i let them pick it up at all. The only thing that made me not dnf this was how mercifully short it is.

  • Ms. Yingling

    ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

    Cordelia Liu moves from California to the Northeast because her father has lost his job. She enrolls in the local school only to find out that it is a quirky building that is haunted! She does meet a friend, Agnes, but when the ghost sightings start piling up, she also gets to know Benji. Benji was a popular kid and great soccer player until he started to hide behind his hoodie and earbuds. Cordelia suspects he can also see the ghosts, and she's right. He

    ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

    Cordelia Liu moves from California to the Northeast because her father has lost his job. She enrolls in the local school only to find out that it is a quirky building that is haunted! She does meet a friend, Agnes, but when the ghost sightings start piling up, she also gets to know Benji. Benji was a popular kid and great soccer player until he started to hide behind his hoodie and earbuds. Cordelia suspects he can also see the ghosts, and she's right. He introduces her to the vast variety of characters who occupy their school, and the two try to find a way to deal with the problem. The school's history is rather dark, and the founder, Elijah Shadow, met an unfortunate end, so getting to the bottom of the problem isn't easy. They eventually figure out "brightkeys"; objects the ghosts seem to need before they move on, and they manage to send some of the ghosts to a happier place. Their principal, Dr. Roqueni, isn't happy with this, especially when poltergeists who trash the cafeteria are stirred up. Shadow was her relative, and she has taken over the principalship to preserve her family legacy. She thinks the children have riled the ghost hunters, who clear the building of ghosts, and wants them to stop. Cordelia thinks that ghost hunters kill the ghosts. With the help of Agnes, who can't see the ghosts, the children try to solve the mystery of the building, the ghosts, and the awful legacy of Elijah Shadow.

    I really enjoyed that there was a solid reason for the school to be in an old house-- the Shadows couldn't pay their taxes, so let the school district use it while maintaining ownership. Could work! Having taught in a school that was in an old house, I can attest that it is an odd experience, and a perfect setting for a hodge podge of different ghosts.

    Agnes is a bit odd, but it's reassuring that she reaches out to Cordelia and the two become friends. Benji's transformation (the earbuds block the noise of the ghosts) also makes sense, and I'm sure he is glad to have help in dealing with the paranormal. There is some cultural diversity, with Cordelia's father being Chinese, Benji being Latinx, and the Shadows being African American. There are a number of teachers and staff members who play a role in the mystery, and while some are rather extreme, most are realistic and add a layer of believability to the story. The twist at the end with Mr. Derleth is rather sweet, and I see him being helpful to the children in the next installment of the series.

    The reasons for the ghosts infesting the school are well explained, and the history of the Shadow Family is intriguing. This reminded me very strongly of the work of Dan Poblocki, Betty Ren Wright, West's The Shadows or Nielsen's Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom. It isn't quite as dark and scary as this author's Nightbooks, but is an appropriate level of scary for middle grade readers.

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