Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt: Archibald Lox series, Volume 2, book 1 of 3 by Darren Shan
|Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt: Archibald Lox series, Volume 2, book 1 of 3 by Darren Shan|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Archie begins his second journey into the Merge. There's a smooth re-entry and it only takes a few pages before you're right back in the swing of the topsy turvy alternative world and Archie's strange lockpicking abilities. Easy, fun read with lots of surprises, as ever with Darren Shan.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 163||Date: July 2021|
|Publisher: Home of the Damned|
|External links: Author's website|
The second trilogy in Shan's Merge saga opens with our hero, Archie, back in London in the world of the Born. It's not been easy, explaining to his foster parents where he's been, or slipping back into ordinary life and forgetting about Inez and his other friends in the Merge, but Archie has done his best.... well, except for visiting veteran locksmith Winston in Big Ben's clock tower and except for fiddling with that sneaky master lock in Seven Dials every time he can sneak away.
But we all know the Merge will beckon Archie again, don't we? And so it does, when Orlan Stilettoand Argate Axe, the two evil SubMerged assassins we met in the first trilogy, reappear. This time, their target isn't Inez, it's Archie himself. And he has nowhere to turn in search of friendship and safety other than the Merge. Once in that strange land of the dead but not departed, Archie agrees to participate in Inez's latest dangerous plan, unpicks a lock that leads to the eponymous forgotten crypt (I'm not telling you more about that for fear of spoiling) and, as if Inez's mission isn't peril enough, joins a grop team taking part in a tournament between the realms. Grop, as readers of the first series will remember, is the Merge's violent version of street football.
Anyway! That's the plot! Lots happens because Shan never stands still. Some plot strands start to come together and we meet some new characters as well as reacquaint ourselves with some old favourites. I was glad to see Pol the Rat again, even though he is still stealing anything that isn't nailed down, and also Cal the bodyguard, as rough and gruff and honourable as ever. And I enjoyed meeting Kojo, the boy who has looked after a crypt for thousands of years, all by himself. Shan draws a tremendously engaging portrait of him and I'm left with the slightly sentimental feeling that every person who reads this book will render him that little bit less alone.
The Forgotten Crypt is more of a chapter than a standalone book. It doesn't end with a cliffhanger but it doesn't tie up any plot strands either. This second volume in the Merge saga will be published in three parts over this summer. I am greedy so I want to read them all at once! Even so, it's a satisfying re-entry into this new world of Shan's, which is slighty batty but always interesting. I'm still not keen on the idea of the only food available being mushrooms but glad to find there are ways of making mushrooms taste just like fried chicken. And I do love Archie, who is much cleverer than he thinks he is.
Roll on the next instalment!
If a parallel world lurking around the streets of London piques your interest, you might also enjoy Un-Lun-Dun by China Mieville in which Zanna and Deeba must try to stop the Smog with the help of a half-ghost, a pint of milk and a strangely powerful man who controls broken umbrellas. What more could you want?!
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