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The first book in a middle grade series that introduces three friends and their quest to unravel the secrets of Shadow School, a strange middle school in New Hampshire, from the acclaimed author of Nightbooks and the Thickety series, J. A. White. Perfect for fans of Stranger Things, Neil Gaiman, and Adam Gidwitz.

Cordelia Liu knew Shadow School was going to be different. Black gates and ivied walls. Long hallways lined with old paintings. A tower with a window that looks like an eye. Different she expected; different she could handle. Still, Cordelia can’t shake the feeling that something’s not right—and that she’s being carefully watched.

The answer isn’t just in front of her eyes—it’s in her gym, next to the bulletin board, even in the cafeteria. The school grounds are filled with ghosts. Cordelia soon realizes she’s not the only one who can see them; her new friend Benji can too. Together with supersmart Agnes, the trio are determined to find out why the ghosts are there, and whether there’s a way to set them free. But the school was created with more sinister intentions, and someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to ensure that the ghosts remain trapped forever.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published August 27, 2019

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About the author

J.A. White

9 books538 followers
J. A. White lives in New Jersey with his wife, three sons, and a hamster named Ophelia that doesn’t like him very much. When he’s not making up stories, he teaches a bunch of kids how to make up stories (along with math and science and other important stuff). He wishes dragons were real because it would be a much cooler way to get to work.

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5 stars
296 (33%)
4 stars
404 (45%)
3 stars
160 (18%)
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20 (2%)
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6 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 175 reviews
Profile Image for Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard.
1,144 reviews243 followers
May 25, 2020
Damn I was seriously deprived of something in childhood by not going to a boarding and/or haunted school. I loved that middle grade books with a group of friends that ARE NOT ALL WHITE is so much more available nowadays. The kids were wonderful and so damn smart. Such a weird and fun setting.

Rep: half Chinese character and Persian character
December 29, 2020
Wowza! This is my 2nd book I’ve read by J.A. White, & I can see he is going to be a favorite author. I LOVED Nightbooks, & I think I loved this even more! Anything w/a school, I’m in. Even a middle school, as long as there’s something unique about it, or creepy even. This had all of that. I especially love it when a school used to be a huge house, manor, or mansion before being turned into a school. That’s the case here! Oh & the backstory of the previous owner & occupant of the house, who also built it....FASCINATING! The ghosts were so interesting too! All so different. I absolutely loved the little boy. He has my whole heart. Cordelia & her family just moved to New Hampshire from San Francisco, & she is not happy about it. She thinks she will hate it, & wants to go back to CA desperately. But before long she has made 2 amazing friends, & some not so alive acquaintances lol the school is filled w/ghosts! Her new friend Benji can see them too, but they’re the only ones who can that they know of. Her other new friend Agnes can’t. But she’s the sweetest girl, & is essential to their group & their adventure. They try to find out why the ghosts are there, & if they can help them somehow. However, parts of the school they aren’t aware of aren’t happy about this, & there’s more danger than they anticipated. This was such a great book. The suspense was real y’all! Lol I never wanted to put it down. I had to keep going. The author wrote everything brilliantly. I could see everything in my mind, & feel what they were feeling. I related to Cordelia & her anger at the move. My family moved us when I was in the 7th grade. I had lived at the beach my whole life, & then we moved far away from the beach. It was awful. At first. But just like her, it ended up being not so bad-well besides no longer having the beach.🤷🏻‍♀️These kids made me so proud, like I knew them or something! I was cheering them on the whole way. That ending too! Wow. I got emotional-in a good way. I can’t wait to start the 2nd book. I highly recommend this. Beautiful cover by Petur Antonsson, but I’m not surprised. Amazing illustrator!💜
Profile Image for Andrea.
171 reviews41 followers
October 5, 2020
I has resolutely decided not to read any spooky reads this October. 2020 has already being creepy enough so I didn't want to have any more reasons to keep me awake. Which is why I don't understand how I began reading this in the first place! Nevertheless I have to say, I enjoyed it a lot. The book was not scary for me but I think it could be for someone in the recommended age group.
Profile Image for Liz.
1,789 reviews3 followers
October 2, 2019
A bit of a spooky middle-grade read, perfect for the beginning of October. I thought this was cute and enjoyed reading about the friendship between Cordelia, Agnes, and Benji and the ending was sweet and satisfying. Hoping there will be a sequel but this could also work as a standalone.
Profile Image for Lupine Smile.
631 reviews5 followers
September 3, 2019
I received this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.

When I saw the description of the book (for fans of Stranger Things & Gaiman), I was quite excited to be a winner of the giveaway. After reading the book, I would say that this book fits more in line with fans of Goosebumps or Magic Tree House. The reading age of this book would fit into the 9-11 yr old range by my estimations.

The story starts with the classic new kid at a new school, but this time with a twist, something is not right at Shadow school, something on a supernatural level.

Although the description of the book was intriguing, the story itself was very linear. The book's concept was a rich environment in which to establish a layered story with thrilling puzzles for the main characters to tease apart, but this was not done. There was almost no sense of discovery, and the puzzles were just slight road bumps in the plot line. Everything was far too easy, and the suspense was extremely limited as a result. The characters were fun, but again, formed a coalition too easily, and almost seemed fit for purpose.

I think with some polishing, this story could have been a really fantastic offering. I know that this book is listed as the first in the series, so I have hopes for the next offering.
Profile Image for Reading is my Escape.
830 reviews45 followers
August 7, 2022
Cordelia Liu stared up at her new school in disbelief.
- first line

Cordelia’s dad lost his job and the family moved to New Hampshire where Cordelia is attending the Elijah Z. Shadow Middle School. The school is built in the former home of Elijah Shadow and is gothic and spooky. Cordelia sees ghosts in the school, but she isn’t the only one, Benji sees them too. Together Cordelia, Benji, and Agnes work to figure out why the ghosts are there and what they can do to help them. They discover that by giving the ghosts their “bright keys” they can help them move on. But why are there so many ghosts in the school?

I loved Nightbooks by White so I was excited to read this book. What a fantastic idea to have the ghosts performing an action over and over until they get their “bright key” which allows them to move on. My favorite ghost was the little boy, so brave and helpful and it was sweet how much Cordelia cared for him. I was so excited to find out why the ghosts were there and what was the story behind the school. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

My favorite quotes:
She heard someone crying. These weren’t the quick, breathless tears of someone in physical pain, but a low, rhythmic weeping. It was the kind of crying you allowed yourself to do when no one else was listening.
Even at eleven, Cordelia knew that the easy choices were seldom the right ones.
Profile Image for Ashley Flynn.
416 reviews31 followers
March 19, 2021
3.5. This was a fun and engaging story with cute characters and a good degree of suspense. I thought the mystery elements were smart and surprising, but I would have liked the ghosts to be a little bit more scary. For a middle grade audience, however, the scare level is probably very appropriate. My only real complaints were with the pacing through the end of the story. I would still definitely recommend this to anyone interested in a solid middle grade ghost story.
October 31, 2019
I really really really really like this book so much and might be my favorite book in the whole world. I want to read the next book I’m pretty sure I would like that one too
Profile Image for Carina Olsen.
778 reviews144 followers
December 12, 2018
I have been a fan of this author for many years now. I loved his first fantasy series beyond words. And will always read his new books. I was a little nervous about this new one, as I'm more of a fantasy person, and do not read many books set in present time. Yet I was excited too. And ended up liking it a bunch. Four stars.

Archimancy was a quick and fun read. I had a small issue getting into it at the beginning, but that did not last long, and I ended up enjoying everything a whole lot. While I didn't fully love the book, it was pretty much adorable, and I'm so very excited about more books coming about these characters. The ending was too soon.

This first book is written from the point of view of eleven year old Cordelia. The summer before a new school year begins, she and her parents had to move from their town, hours away. So she is now starting a new school, with no friends. Cordelia is not happy about this move at all. And she spends a lot of the book unhappy about it, yet also slowly growing to love her school and liking the town too and especially the people in it. And I liked that a whole lot. And I also enjoyed getting to know Cordelia, as she was adorable. Kind and sweet, yet a bit rude too. I loved how quickly she became friends with Agnes, the girl everyone else treated badly. I loved how she went out of her way to get to talk to Benji too, a boy who was ignoring everyone. I adored their friendship.

This is a book about ghosts. How Cordelia starts her new school, which is this huge ancient place that is all kinds of creepy and awesome. And once there, she hears a little boy crying. When she tries to touch him, her hand goes through him. Which freaks her out for a bit. She then also start seeing more than one ghost. I shall not mention more about it, since this book felt so short, maybe because of how fast I read it. But though short, it was still full of great things. And I enjoyed reading all of it. It's full of awesome ghosts.

This book is about Cordelia. And getting to know her. And her getting to know the ghosts of her school. It was interesting to get to know the history of it all, learning why there are ghosts there, and learning how it was possible to help them. Cordelia is the only person who can see the ghosts. Until she notices another boy who can too; Benji. I have already mentioned this, but gosh, I adored her friendship with Agnes and Benji. They became fast friends and were awesome together. Shipped Cordelia and Benji so much, haha.

There is not really all that much I can share about this book. And so I shall not write such a long review. Only sharing that I enjoyed it a whole lot and that I am very much excited about more books. And hoping they will all be about the same characters too, as I need more of them all. I do wish this book had been more scary, haha, yet I was happy with how it was written too. Getting to know Cordelia and her friends was the best. I wish to know even more about all of them, though. And I want even more ghosts as well.

One thing that I did not like much about this book, was that it's so short, and it takes place over an entire school year. I felt like maybe it could have happened faster, without all the time jumps. Yet I also like that they are all older now, but yeah. The time jumps didn't need to be there. I also wish there had been even more friendship scenes with Cordelia and Agnes and Benji. As they were the cutest together. But I did not really dislike anything in this book. Only small things I had issues with. The rest of this one was awesome.

Archimancy was an incredible first book in a new series. Full of fun and friendship and ghosts. I adored all of the characters. And I found the writing to be pretty amazing too. While I do not care much for books set in the present, I did not mind much in this one. Probably because of the creepy school and all the ghosts, haha. This book is not out until August of next year, which is still months away. But couldn't resist reading it early. Huge thank you to Harper for the auto-approval on Edelweiss. You all must read this one as well.


This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: https://carinabooks.blogspot.com/2018...
Profile Image for Anja.
206 reviews8 followers
December 7, 2019
I genuinely enjoyed this book, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. This book reminded me of the Morrigan Crow stories. I thought that this book was going to be around a 3.5/5, but it ended up being a 4/5, because I found myself really liking this book. I actually looked up from my book, and laughed out loud at some of the dialogue. With me being older than the juvenile fiction demographic, juvenile fiction dialogue tends to become cheesy for me, but for the most part, this dialogue wasn’t.
My favourite part of this book was the plot. I was afraid that this plot would take awhile to get started, but I was hooked before I was even ten percent in. The plot kept me intrigued throughout the whole story. The foreshadowing was done well, and this story was wrapped up in such a wonderful way.
I also really liked the core friendship between Agnes, Cordelia, and Benji. I just noticed now that their initials are ABC. But anyway, Cordelia was a strong protagonist, Agnes is such a sweet, smart human, and even though Benji is the stereotypical humorous guy friend, he’s a good character as well. I wish that there had been more detail into their characters and their family backgrounds, but perhaps that’ll happen in the sequels, which I am looking forward to. I would definitely recommend this book to any fans of Morrigan Crow, or anybody who wants a good fantasy book for escaping purposes.
Profile Image for Story of a Book Reader.
203 reviews82 followers
November 12, 2020
~ She heard someone crying. These weren't the quick, breathless tears of someone in physical pain, but a low, rhythmic weeping. It was the kind of crying you allowed yourself when no one else was listening. ~

Who doesn't love a great ghost story?

Cordelia finds herself at a new school which she quickly realizes is filled with ghosts. With the help of her two new friends she tries to discover a way to help the ghosts out, trying to free them from their misery.

~ Even at eleven, Cordelia knew that the easy choices were seldom the right ones. ~

Archimancy is a story about friendship, determination and compassion.
The characters are well drawn out, they go through amazing growth throughout the story. I loved the family and friendship dynamics and the chemistry between the characters.
I loved the ghosts and the mystery elements. I didn't find the book at all predictable, which was a pleasant surprise since it hasn't happened in quite awhile.
The writing is sharp and witty.
The only thing that slightly disappointed me was the ending, which I found rushed.
Basically the only complaint that I have is that I wanted the book to be longer.
It definitely left me wanting more. I'm really looking forward to reading the second book in the Shadow School series.


I was thorn while reading this book: I didn't want to put it down but, at the same time, I also didn't want it to end.
I really wanted to savour this story.
Perfect for fans of City of Ghosts, Harry Potter, Supernatural and Ghost Whisperer.
Highly recommended.

~ We don't always get to pick the life we lead. Sometimes it gets picked for you. ~
Profile Image for Sabrina.
1,226 reviews26 followers
May 2, 2021
Cordelia has just started a new school, mysteriously named the Shadow School, and she is relieved to find out it's just named after the owner of the building. However it turns out to be just as mysterious and creepy looking as it sounds, with lots of legends surrounding it.

I loved all the secret passages and there's even a library down a trapdoor! The ghost system is clever and very interesting, why they stay and how they go. I won't spoil anything but the way ghosts move on is wonderful. The characters are great, you alternate between loving and then mistrusing them, never really knowing who you can trust.

The ending was so sweet it got me tearing up. There were quite a few things left unanswered but hopefully that will come in future books.
Profile Image for Felix Hommy Gonzalez.
129 reviews3 followers
October 4, 2019
Another great book by J.A. White. It seems like this guy only creates masterpieces. I loved all the characters, the spooky setting and the awesome friendships. Also: I cried. Like, really cried. I was definitely not expecting that, but this book really moved me. What a beautiful spooky story!!!


There were some questions left unanswered and I felt like some things (and characters) weren’t really fleshed out or explored in depth, but it is just the first book of a series, so I’m guessing we will probably get some answers in the next book. At least that’s what I hope.
Profile Image for Marilisa.
196 reviews12 followers
August 31, 2021
When Cordelia Liu moves to New Hampshire, she is in for more than she bargained for. Her new school, Shadow School, is a creepy old mansion with more than one secret. Together with her new friends Agnes and Benji, she will embark on a crazy adventure with spooky vibes.
A really solid story that will spook you and warm your heart at the same time. Recommended for lovers of middle grades!
Profile Image for PrincessOfParis.
122 reviews
October 24, 2021
This book was awesome 👏! The author never crosses the line of horror but it was still a nail-biting scary horror story! I love all the characters. I also like how the author made Agnes not see ghosts but she is still apart of the little group with Cordelia and Benji. I’m definitely going to get book 2!
January 5, 2023
Huh..I don't know how this happened.
My updates made it seem like I really disliked this book, but I didn't....
Anyways..I'm surprised, but what I rated this, but I truly did like it to some degree that I didn't DNF it. A pretty average book, but I can recognize that it was a good middle grade book.
Profile Image for Liz.
1,789 reviews3 followers
October 2, 2019
A bit of a spooky read that's perfect for the start of October. I enjoyed the plot and reading about the friendship between Cordelia, Agnes, and Benji. The ending was sweet and satisfying. I hope there is a sequel but this could also work as a standalone.
Profile Image for Michelle Osborne.
82 reviews2 followers
October 21, 2019
This was a fun, spooky middle grade story. The main character is eleven years old and gets sent to a haunted school. I’m a sucker for a school setting, and this one didn’t disappoint. Read it in one sitting.
Profile Image for zainab.
262 reviews145 followers
October 3, 2019
i picked this up on a whim. i wanted to read something light that didn't require so much of my concentration and horror because well, it's fall and this was, somewhat, perfect for it.
a school full of ghosts? yes, please. but it is, afterall, a middle grade book so it didn't scare the brains out of me and I wasn't turning around, looking at my back at, um, zero times.
It was still a good adventure story. Kind of got me out of a reading slump so I appreciate that.
I think i would recommend it to you - and definitely, your kids or younger siblings - if you want to read something quick.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 175 reviews

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