Title: Shadow School Archimancy
Author: J.A. White
Series: Book 1 in the Shadow School Series
Genre: Magical adventure
Age: 8-12 (Middle Grade)
What’s best about it:
- Pithy descriptions of people and places
- Imaginative plot
- A threesome of outsiders are the heroes
- Cordelia’s curiosity and resourcefulness
Find out more about it: At J.A. White’s website
Shadow School is the least school-like building that Cordelia’s ever attended. True, this is New Hampshire, and she’s lived in California until now. Yet how many East Coast schools are in old mansions with wallpaper and carpeted floors? Even fewer are haunted. Only Cordelia and another student can see the ghosts—an ability that leads them into supernatural trouble.
Like my last review, SHADOW SCHOOL ARCHIMANCY follows the adventures of a girl whose entire life has just changed. This heroine, though, loved the place she left. Still grumpy about leaving California, Cordelia’s curiosity eventually nudges her to investigate her new world. She starts by deliberately befriending “outsiders” with distinctive, endearing personalities. Together, they investigate the ghosts that no one else seems to see. Like most beginning friendships, their relationship is bumpy, but the conflicts that threaten to divide them are natural to the story.
Eccentric teachers, Cordelia’s brilliant ideas, and strange ghosts create subtle humor. The main characters include the building itself, the three children, and a few spirits. Adults play supporting roles only, and most of the ghosts are clueless, which I thought was a hilarious, clever idea.
The imaginative plot twists in unexpected directions but provides a satisfying ending. A few questions remained at the finish, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the next books in the series will answer them.