Archie Greene & The Alchemist’s Curse
By D D Everest
Published by Faber and Faber
ISBN 978 0 571 30741 8
On the night of 2nd September, 1666, an accident occurred in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane, London, that led to one of the greatest disasters in history. A fire broke out in the bread kitchen. The fire spread to other shops and houses, and after a few hours the entire neighbourhood was aflame.
History tells us that the Great Fire of London began in the baker’s oven, but that is not the truth. King Charles covered up the truth of how the fire started because they were afraid of panic spreading throughout England. The truth is much more sinister than a fire breaking out in an oven.
In the mid-seventeenth century, magic was still practiced by small groups of magicians in England.
A group of magicians calling themselves the Alchemists’ Club used the baker’s shop in Pudding Lane to conduct experiments. And on the night of 2nd September, 1666, one of their experiments went badly wrong.
King Charles made sure that the use of magic was put under strict control. He founded the Royal Society of Magic and passed laws on what magicians could and couldn’t do.
On the face of things, magic disappeared from life in England.
But, of course, it didn’t disappear. Ask twelve year old Archie Greene about that. Archie lives in the present-day city of Oxford, and he comes from an ancient family of magicians. He is an apprentice at the Museum of Magical Miscellany, a secret organisation that tracks down and guards ancient books of magic.
In his second adventure, Archie Greene & The Alchemist’s Curse, our young hero comes face to face with the dark side of magic. During an apprentice-initiation ceremony, Archie is branded with a sign on his hand. It is the Golden Circle mark last used by the Alchemist’s Club 350 years ago. Why are ancient black magicians reaching out to Archie Greene? What do they want?
The Alchemist’s Curse is a rip-roaring fantasy full of characters and magical action to enjoy, but the whole Archie Greene concept is hardly original. Comparison to Harry Potter is inevitable, and D.D. Everest only just gets away with it. Due to their short length, characters without much depth and quick paced plot, the two Archie Greene adventures are best suited to young readers not ready for the dramatic complexities of J. K. Rowling. Readers who have met Harry Potter will toss Archie Greene aside, but others will find enough entertainment in Everest’s creation to keep them going on the road that will lead to Hogwarts.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com