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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Archibald Lox: The Missing Princess is a work of fiction in the fantasy, paranormal, and action and adventure sub-genres, and was penned by author Darren Shan. The work is intended for the young adult reading audience but is also suitable for the young at heart who still enjoy daring tales in fantastical settings. Our protagonist is the titular Archibald, a young locksmith who enters a parallel universe to his own and discovers there is so much more to life than he previously thought. This volume brings together three fantastic shorter novels in which our hero faces dangerous creatures from the deepest, darkest corners of one’s imagination, but also faces up to much more prominent demons: those of his own self-confidence.
As a massive fan of Darren Shan since the Cirque Du Freak days, I was delighted to delve into a masterwork of atmospheric writing and explore all of the wonderful shadowy edges that this style provides. It’s incredible to me to see an author who can instill so much fear and tension into a work that is essentially accessible and non-graphic for its young audience, leaving the darkest moments to one’s own imagination. The plot weaves its way around three very different adventures, each taking unusual twists and unexpected paths compared to the last, but looking back on them as a whole, it’s easy to see the journey of our central figure Archie and how his discoveries and trials begin to shape him as a true hero.
It’s in the little details where I truly found myself immersed and gleefully lost, a welcome break from the humdrum shut-in world we currently abide in. The Merge offers such incredible promise, but not without its many dangers, creating an inviting conceptual world for all of us to lose ourselves in alongside our young protagonist. Yet despite his years, the presentation of Archie and his comrades feels balanced, both accessible to MG and YA readers, whilst also sophisticated enough for the young at heart to still relate back to. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Archibald Lox: The Missing Princess to fans of Shan’s existing back-catalog of thrilling dark fantasy adventures, as well as newcomers to the shadowy side of paranormal and magical fiction everywhere.