We join Archie one morning as he decides to skip school. It’s something he’s done often since the death of his brother a few months earlier. No one in Archie’s family is handling the change well and he feels ignored and alone. While walking a bridge in London, he spots a girl around his age who is fleeing from some unknown threat. No one else seems to notice her. No one notices when she makes faces at a slab on the bridge and no one notices when the slab glows and she disappears inside. No one except Archie.
Archie’s world changes after he copies the faces the girl made, picks the lock on the slab, and leaves the bridge, London, and his invisible life behind.
Shan is back on his game, not that he ever really left, with this new YA series (although Book 1 could also be read by middle grade readers). The new world waiting for Archie, and readers, is called the Merge. A place created and governed by nine families, each ruling over a separate realm. When the last family member dies, the realm disappears.
Archie’s guide in this new world is Inez, the girl from the bridge, who turns out to be a camel, someone who carries messages between realms. Inez is not all she appears to be, and as the story progresses, Shan expands on the Merge to reveal it’s true nature of dedication, duty, love, and loyalty to the families.
Filled with fantastic characters, true to form description, and Shan’s distinct writing style, Archibald Lox is sure to enthrall readers of all ages. I would recommend ages 10 and up for Book 1 because there are a few “scary” scenes once the SubMerged and their “pets” show up to ruin a trip down the river of blood.
Book 1 left me with predictions I hope are not correct, questions about the King and his life in the Born (the real world), and salivating over what is to come.
Some readers may not like where Shan left off in Book 1 but the trilogy is already finished and published, so readers can immediately begin the next book and continue the story.
Overall, another fantastic story by Shan and one that feels long overdue (even though Koyasan was published in 2006 and is another fine YA story, so go check that one out if you haven’t read it yet). This trilogy will become a must-have for any Shan fan.
Find links to all of Darren Shan’s books on his website: www.darrenshan.com/books