Archie Greene and the Alchemists' Curse
by D.D. Everest
Review by Gayle Surrette
HarperCollins Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062312143
Date: 01 November 2016 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Archie Greene had been raised by his grandmother after the death of his parents, but a delivery of a package from a London law firm set in motions actions that resulted, after the events of the first book of the series, in Archie now living with his Aunt Loretta and Uncle Woodbine Foxe and his cousins, Bramble and Thistle. Archie already got his flame mark, a needle and thread, that indicated he'd be a bookbinder.
Today Archie and his cousin Thistle would face the Flame of Pharos to see what apprenticeship they would be assigned to ... Thistle's first brand and Archie's second. Thistle's brand assigns him to be a Finder. Then Archie surprisingly gets a second brand of a golden circle. While the surprise is still fresh a second burst of flame hits Thistle and he too has a second brand, a golden circle identical to Archie's. The master seem very upset by this mark.
It turns out that the golden circle is a sign of the Alchemists' Club, which was responsible for burning down half of London. This caused the King to strictly control magic and set up rules that must be followed, called the Lores of Magical Restraint.
Within a short amount of time, three more young people are marked by the flame with golden circles. The five marked young people are determined to find out what happened to the original members of the Alchemists' Club. None of the Masters seem willing to give them much information so they have to dig into the mystery themselves. When has trying to keep young people in ignorance ever kept them safe?
It turns out that the magical protections that have stood for years to keep them the magical community safe and hidden are breaking down. A rogue group is killing people who have magical books. Somehow it all seems related to the return of the marks of the golden circles and the Alchemists' Club.
Lots of action, misdirection, misinformation, and mistrust manage to rule the plot, giving it twists, turns, and loads of action, adventure, and hair raising scares that just maybe, this time, things might not come out okay by the last page. Some unexpected events confuse the issues while others seem to be clearer than they really are.
I never read the previous book and yet had no problem following this plot and the characters in this one as enough information is given to get into this world where magic still exists along side those who are not privy to the magical side of things.