BookReview: Archimancy (Shadow School #1) by J.A. White

Title: Archimancy
Series: Shadow School #1
Author: J.A. White
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Pages: 304
Format: e-ARC
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Paranormal

Cordelia Liu knew Shadow School was going to be different. Black gates and ivied walls. Long hallways lined with old paintings. A tower with a window that looks like an eye. Different she expected; different she could handle. Still, Cordelia can’t shake the feeling that something’s not right—and that she’s being carefully watched. The answer isn’t just in front of her eyes—it’s in her gym, next to the bulletin board, even in the cafeteria. The school grounds are filled with ghosts. Cordelia soon realizes she’s not the only one who can see them; her new friend Benji can too. Together with supersmart Agnes, the trio are determined to find out why the ghosts are there, and whether there’s a way to set them free. But the school was created with more sinister intentions, and someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to ensure that the ghosts remain trapped forever.

I need to make it a point this year to read more middle grade novels. I do not know why I haven't but what I do know is that they can be such fun reads. Yes, some can be spooky and some can make me wonder if there are ghosts walking around me but like Shadow School it can be all fun, spooky, and a little ghost paranoid. 

Cordelia Liu has just moved cross country and is starting her first day at a new school. However, something doesn't feel right and that could be because of the little boy she sees under the gym bleachers, in his pajamas, crying. But it could also be the fact that when she goes to comfort him, her hand passes right through him. Soon realizing that she and another student are able to see ghosts the two of them plus the help of Cordelia's new best friend, Agnes, set out to set these ghosts free. What they do not know is something lurks in the shadow, and it is watching. 

Normally I would be reading spooky stories in October to go with the mood but this was a nice break from what I was normally reading. It was a light enjoyable read that flowed smoothly and held my interest. Talking to issues of relocating, new friendships, and teamwork, J.A. White writes a book that capture key things that kids will be able to connect too. 

Looking at characters, Cordelia is unhappy in the beginning of the novel, having to leave her past life behind and start a whole new life in her hometown. But as we move through the story we start to see this brave, young girl stand up for what she believes in and most importantly her new friends. Agnes and Benji are good friends to have. They have their own personalities that gave the story depth. However, I am concerned with the description of the unlikely duo of parents and the further description of the Chinese dad as the more unflattering and non-social character and the representation it brings for non-white characters. 

At the ending there was a little bit of an emotional read that did hit home pretty hard but it was nice to have that in the story. It answered some questions that the reader might have towards a particular character and their suspicions throughout the novel. 

Overall, minus that bump, J.A. White writes a enjoyable read. Capturing my attention till the end and leaving with me wanting to know more. You do not have to wait till October to read this novel but the ghost paranoia, well that is something you should always be worrying about. 


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