First, he has to leave his grandmother (whom he's lived with since the death of his parents and sister) to find an aunt, uncle and cousins he never even knew he had.
Second, he discovers a world of magic and enters the Museum of Magical Miscellany, where people are divided into finders, binders and minders — those who find magical books, those who bind and repair the books, and those who then look after them.
And third, he learns he's a book whisperer — a rare breed of person who can hear books speak.
It all gets a lot more complicated when he discovers that the book he received on his birthday is one of the Terrible Tomes, one of the seven most dangerous books of dark-magic ever written. The Greaders (those who seek to use the magic within the books for their own purposes rather than according to the strict Lores designed for the good of all) want nothing more than to get their hands on it, but can Archie prevent them?
This is page-turning fantasy of the highest quality. I absolutely loved the word play and inventiveness that runs through the book. 'Drawing books' aren't what you're used to — instead they're books that can actually draw readers into their pages where they become characters in the story. 'Pop-ups' are magical characters than can literally pop up out of books and come to life. If they won't 'ezaporate' of their own accord, you'll need a 'popper stopper' to trap them. And access to the Museum of Magical Miscellany is gained via Quill's Coffee & Chocolate Shop and a quick drink of a 'motion potion'.
Add to that a fast-paced plot and enjoyable characters and this is a story that should tempt even the most reluctant of readers. I was very pleased to see that Archie Greene looks like returning for more adventures, too.
Title: Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret
Author: D.D. Everest
Publisher: Faber & Faber, $16.99 RRP
Publication Date: November 2014
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Fiction