When Archibald was dragged out of bed and found himself in a nearby lake during his Summer holidays, he knew he was going to have a hard time when school reopened.
Set in 19th Century England, Archibald “Archie” Wellesley is of noble birth, and younger brother to Alexander Wellesley. Both of whom attend Wyndsor, England’s School for Kings. Among bullying classmates of varying noble duties, a brother who is ashamed of him, and his own dislike of the noble life, Archie finds himself in the middle of the most dangerous school year yet.
From attempted kidnapping, to student traps, to attacks on students, Archie decides to put his detective cap on. With the additional presence of a mysterious onlooker, he, his brother, and his friends go on what they perceive to be the biggest hunt of their lives.
The first thought which crossed my mind after seeing the covers for the Archibald series was – Does Singapore have our own Harry Potter now?! After reading, I assure you that there is no magic involved, just brilliant castles and teenage detective work.
Despite the utter lack of fantasy and magic, SherMay Loh makes up for it with a gripping storyline and characters to root for. Archibald may not be the bravest or fit into the trope of the “Chosen One”, but his bumbling habits and strokes of genius make him a character you could envision as a good friend or someone you would know. The story and setting are relatable and entertaining.
It is a bit of a shame I don’t see the Archibald series more prominently in our bookstores. However, I do hope we get to see this boy and read more of his stories again.