[Gifted] Darren Shan very kindly gave me the last three books in his Archibald Lox series in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to check out my review of the first three books and Volume 2: The Kidnapped Prince first. I’ve done everything in threes in this series, so I might as well continue as I started with this Archibald Lox Volume 3 review.
I’m going to avoid any major spoilers in this final Archibald Lox review, but it would be hard to review the third volume without including a few smaller spoilers so this is your warning to look away if you take these things seriously.
What Archibald Lox Volume 3 Is About
Archie always finds a way back to the Merge. Although he is now a teenager, the time he spent in the realm stunted the aging process, and he doesn’t look much different than when the saga began. It becomes clearer to him that he’s finding himself tied between the Merge and the Born and may need to make a choice.
In Archibald Lox and the Sinkhole to Hell, he’s called back to pay farewell to an old friend we met in previous books while showing Kojo around London.
He returns to the Merge and is shocked that his unnatural abilities are even stronger yet again as he can now see the Royals’ auras, something a Born shouldn’t be able to do. After this friend passes, it immediately becomes clear something isn’t right.
A skilled Locksmith, he stays in the Merge for a bit longer to teach the Royals how to open a lock to the Crypt – which is where the Departed return to share warnings with the Merged.
As usual, nothing goes to plan or smoothly and soon Archie and Inez find themselves in trouble once again. As the story progresses, it becomes clear the fate of the Merge is in Archie’s hands.
What I Thought Of Volume 3
Each book in the third volume immediately picks up where the previous one left of so there are no jarring jumps.
The first book helps us readjust to the Merge and reacquaint ourselves with the characters, before the plot really takes off at the end and into the following two books.
One of my favourite things about Darren Shan is you can never predict what’s going to happen next. Whenever I thought I had things sussed out, I was proven very wrong. Some loose ends and hints from previous books were cleared up – in ways I’d never even considered. So while I won’t spoil the ending, it was pretty satisfying.
After 9 books, the Merge started to feel like home. I wanted to cherish the last few books but once I got to Archibald Lox and the Pick of the Loxes, I couldn’t put them down and sped through it. So, now that I’m finished, I’m feeling pretty lost. Which is great praise for authors, but sucks for us readers!
I’ve mentioned before how I’m normally not the biggest fantasy fan, but these are definitely the exception. While the world building is extensive, it’s not so complicated it’s impossible to grasp. The books are all also relatively short, so they’re not as daunting as other fantasy books too. I initially missed the gore and horror Darren Shan is best known, but for the Merge quickly makes up for it – besides, we get some very satisfying SubMerged villains like Old Man Reap and Stefan.
If you liked this series, you might also like Midsummer’s Bottom or Procession of the Dead – especially if you’re an older reader. Younger readers of my blog probably know by now I cannot recommend the Cirque Du Freak books or manga enough.
Have you read the Archibald Lox books? If so, what did you think?