Cat fantasy, a sequel to The Book of Night with Moon (1997), wherein feline wizards keep magical transit gates functioning, prevent disasters and invasions, and generally tidy up, while humans go about their business in blissful ignorance. This time, the evil Lone Power has induced a Tower Hill, London, gate to malfunction, allowing unsuspecting humans to slide from or into the past. Sent by the Powers That Be, our heroes from Grand Central Station, New York—house cat Rhiow, dumpster resident Urruah, and impetuous young Arhu—examine the problem. The past, they discover, has already been changed: when Queen Victoria was assassinated in 1874, vengeful Britain bombed the world into a nuclear winter! How come? Well, one victim of the timeslipping gate dropped a modern scientific encyclopedia in 1816, giving rise to unrestrained and explosive scientific advances. The present, though, could change at any moment, so the wizards have to stabilize the timeline by preventing Victoria's assassination. They will have help, from the boy Arthur Conan Doyle (don't ask), while Ith, the dinosaur wizard from the previous adventure, investigates fragments of an ancient Egyptian spell written on cat mummy wrappings that might help stave off a nuclear winter. But despite all this, the Lone Power blocks access to 1874, and only when Arhu discovers the twin sister he never knew he had will the wizards find the power they need to enter it. After a dreadfully slow start, stuffed full of numbing details on the construction and operation of the gates, readers will discover little but recycled ideas and a stack of personal problems for the characters to work through. YA-ish and disappointing.
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