The delivery of an ancient book propels Archie Greene into a world of magic and danger: the perfect birthday present for any 12-year-old.
Fearing for his safety, Archie’s grandmother sends him to stay with family he has never met. But first he must visit the Aisle of White, a bookshop that specializes in rare and magical tomes. But Archie soon discovers that the shop is also a gateway to the Museum of Magical Miscellany, where curators called the Flame Keepers of Alexandria collect and preserve magical artifacts. Archie is quickly apprenticed to Old Zeb, a bookbinder, from whom he learns about all kinds of magic. But when characters from the books begin endangering the security of the museum and the books themselves begin whispering about a dangerous presence, Archie and his cousins find that they might be the only ones brave enough or foolish enough to investigate. Forced humor, humdrum magic and a mystery that is barely mysterious—not to mention a distressingly familiar-sounding, formulaic title—all combine to create a story that never takes flight. Fans of whimsical fantasy would do well to look elsewhere (or just to reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone). While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it does not necessarily make for good fiction.
Familiarity in fiction breeds boredom. (Fantasy. 8-12)