In this second installment of a YA fantasy series, a boy’s friends rush to save him before a teen witch surrenders to dark magic.
Thirteen-year-old Sam Barconian, once a typical boy in Pilot Rock, Oregon, is battling evil witches in the Ninth Realm, Orkney. A descendant of both god Odin and he-witch Rubicus, Sam has the potential to become powerful but is still learning how to wield his magic. Unfortunately, he’s an ideal weapon for witch Catriona, who craves vengeance, having long ago witnessed Odin kill her father, Rubicus. She wants Sam on her side to kill Odin, which will likewise return Orkney to Earth, separated by the god for fear that magic would destroy the world. Meanwhile, Odin summons Sam’s Earth pals, Keely, Howie, and Leo, to Orkney. To see which path to take, Keely drinks from sage Mimir’s well, with an ensuing vision giving the trio ominous roles: she as The Seeker; Howie, Orkney’s Protector; and Leo, The Sacrifice. Keely further knows that Sam’s a captive of Catriona, who convinces him his friends’ futures are dire. Eventually succumbing to her persuasion, he becomes Kalifus, a servant of Catriona and her sister witches. At the same time, Keely searches for the Moon Pearl that reputedly can defeat the witches and pull Sam away from the darkness. The animated tale opens with action and ends in kind. Adams (The Egg Thief, 2016, etc.) is a master of exposition, never letting it slow the narrative by immersing it in rapid-fire dialogue: Keely learns of the pearl in a scene involving multiple characters—and squabbling from impetuous witch Mavery. Sam, whose discovery of his origin in The Red Sun (2015) was the series’ catalyst, is less of a protagonist this time, teetering between hero and villain, with his rescue driving the plot. But Keely handles the lead with panache, facing the same dilemmas as Sam, like struggling to understand her own magic (courtesy of Mimir’s drink). Leo’s inclusion adds suspense (will he be sacrificed?), while Howie serves as comic relief, asserting that Odin, in designating him Protector, was “just being optimistic about [his] prospects.” The Norse mythology–infused story also features a surprise appearance by a much more recognizable individual.
Indelible characters, both good and evil, and a rescue storyline that refuses to dawdle.