A foundling with anger issues takes on a sentient island with the same problem in this loosely linked sequel to The Secret Room (2012).
Certain that he’ll never be adopted like his friend Achim from the previous volume, 12-year-old Karl sneaks away from the orphanage with only a toothbrush and a toy boat for baggage. The latter immediately comes in handy, as Karl runs into a crew of thumb-sized sea nomads who have lost their ship and are eager to return to a certain strange island (which they dub a “continent”) where their children disappeared. Thanks to a magic biscuit, Karl shrinks down to join them and after a short voyage, finds himself on that island. It turns out to be governed by a mysterious Ancient One prone to rages that cause violent storms and earthquakes. Nursing deep feelings of abandonment that tend to express themselves in furious outbursts, Karl can relate. Spinning her tale around sympathetic characters rather than a plausible storyline, Michaelis equips her mercurial protagonist with lots of thoroughly convenient magical and full-size human help. He ultimately finds not only the children (who have been transformed into trees), but also tidy cures for both his anger and the Ancient One’s. In frequent vignettes, Nievelstein focuses on objects and setting rather than cast members.
Facile, but well-stocked with tiny people, odd little twists and narrow squeaks. (Fantasy. 10-12)