First in a trilogy spun off from previous books about the sentient planet Petaybee (Power Lines, 1994, etc.), following the adventures of a pair of adorably inquisitive twins.
With their formula down pat, the authors don’t waste time getting readers excited with dangerous thrills or much of a plot. Instead, the narrative putters along inside the cozy icebound settlement of Kilcoole, where the Irish-Eskimo townsfolk have adapted quite well to their bone-chilling climate and created a few charming customs (shared with us in lengthy detail). The promising premise of the planet that thinks and does for itself is mostly frittered away here in a series of obviously padded non-events and a utopian mindset so starry-eyed that even Ursula K. Le Guin would find it naïve. The twins themselves—Murel and Ronan, born to Yana and Sean of the previous trilogy—are an interesting pair with a neat quirk: They can change into a seal’s form in water. After getting into a minor scrape involving poachers of the planet’s cute telekinetic otters (unauthorized people looking to do harm are always landing on Petaybee), the twins are sent off to school on a space station to examine information that will help them understand the volcano that’s threatening to become active back home. A less-than-thrilling subplot involving a scientist with bad intentions occupies some, but not enough, of the time on the space station before the book rattles to a close.
A waste of time for any audience other than young adults.