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Archie Greene and the Alchemists' Curse by…
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Archie Greene and the Alchemists' Curse

by D. D. Everest

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In this second instalment of the Archie Greene series, the similarities with Harry Potter are somewhat more pronounced. The concept of writing magic and casting spells (as well as the concept of wizarding schools) wasn't really touched upon in the previous book, yet its inclusion now makes the story feel a bit over familiar. Added to this are ideas like a magical mental hospital and possessed books, which are both things that have been seen before.

The biggest problem I have with this book is also a criticism that I raised with the first one. It's just too busy. In these short books, Everest tries to flesh out his world. At least one new concept pops up in every chapter and needs to be explained in full. A lot of these (such as the fortune smeller) are largely irrelevant to proceedings and make the novel a bit overwhelming. Really, it's just a melting pot of ideas. While plot points rise to the surface every now and then, they quickly sink again beneath the sea of magical ideas (many of them puns on mundane things, like the door ray) and huge supporting cast.

In terms of plot, this book does at least advance the overarching story, with Archie learning a little more about the threat to the museum and fate of his parents. The plot is largely self-contained in this volume, though does really only conclude itself over the last fifteen pages or so of the book, making the climax feel rushed and a leaving little time for any wrap-up after the event.

In terms of characterisation, the book was also a bit weak. There is a massive supporting cast in this book, many of whom have very similar names as there are only a few magical families in the world. They also don't get a lot of development. The villain's entire motivation is exposited in the final couple of chapters, and even Archie's closest friends are pretty interchangable (I'm pretty sure that Rupert doesn't actually have a personality).

Archie himself is also a bit of a blank slate. While I don't dislike him, he just seems a little too capable. Archie has known about magic for only a few months, yet already he is the most powerful wizard. He's capable of astral projection, can talk to books, and is the only person in the series so far who has proven able to write new spells. This is really frustrating the read, as his absurd amount of power makes him seem very shallow. Everything comes so easy to him that it leeches away any tension.

Anyhow, I think I've said enough. I was really underwhelmed by this book. While it may appeal to Harry Potter fans, it's no where near as memorable or engrossing as Rowling's series. However, I will probably look at the final book when it's released last month just to see how Archie's story wraps up. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | May 7, 2017 |
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Sparks fly when twenty-year-old Holly Croft, star of the UK soap Portobello Road, meets Elise Manford, the actress who's going to play her on-screen love interest in the soap's first ever lesbian storyline. Enigmatic Elise's super-confident attitude and unwelcome advice drives Holly to distraction at first, but as fans go wild over the storyline, and the pair start to spend more and more time together, Holly begins to see another side to her costar. Liking what she sees, Holly slowly finds herself falling in love, but can she ignore her growing attraction to Elise when the lines between fact and fiction begin to blur?… (more)

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