A derivative fantasy trilogy trudges to an anticlimactic conclusion in this dreary Narnia-wannabe.
Siblings Peter and Julia and their bratty stepsister Louisa were stranded in an alternative world on a volcano-blasted island with the enslaved remnant of Aedyn. Now, months later, the refugees are starving and hunted by the monstrous servants of the Shadow. While the children struggle with the failure of their prophesied talisman to summon aid from the Lord of Hosts, a self-proclaimed sacred envoy creates dissension when Louisa denounces him as a betrayer. Despite a massacre early on and frequent gory violence, the oddly detached tone robs the story of any suspense. Stupid choices made on the basis of "faith" are always rewarded with preposterous good luck, the blatant Antichrist-analogue is subdued with ease and the final confrontation with the not-very-menacing Shadow is almost giggle-worthy in its lack of tension. Characters show no personality beyond providing pointed religious lessons; Peter demonstrates the folly of "science" and "reason," while the newly converted Louisa models the role of saintly healer to nauseating effect. Everyone speaks with the same stilted voice, except for strict gender divisions: Boys build and fight, girls cook and scream. Most disturbing, the epilogue back in the "real world" magics away horrific domestic abuse in a fashion both trivializing and potentially life-threatening if taken seriously.
Neither inspiring nor entertaining, just dull. (Fantasy. 9-12)