Future leaders of Santarem confront slavery and sacrifice in this sequel.
Born Princess Adriana but raised as a Storyspinner by the Von Arlo Performers, Johanna has discovered that being a long-lost princess is more a burden than a blessing. Everyone wants to manipulate or murder her: magic-wielding foreign Keepers Jacaré, Leão, and Pira, armed with special affinities and freighted with emotional baggage, need her to restore a magical wall; one-dimensional dukes Belem and Inimigo want more power; and Natas—malevolent Keepers bent on mind-control and graphic torture—Vibora and Sapo want to destroy the wall and enslave the world. Even her traveling companion, Rafael DeSilva, heir to Santiago and the princess’s betrothed, is initially suspect, given his love of power and sense of duty. Everybody suffers, emotionally and physically; Rafi and Johanna compete for the mopey martyr title, while back home, Rafi’s brother, Dom, struggles with second-son syndrome. Short chapters and frequent battles should move the thin plot along, but contrived cliffhangers and constant shifts in point of view cause unnecessary repetitions of the same scenes. The novelty of a New World setting—flora and fauna indicate a Central or South American setting, and italicized vocabulary resembles Portuguese, suggesting Brazil—is lost under stereotypical pseudo–medieval European elements, ill-explained religion, troubling anachronisms (such as foxholes and improvised explosive devices), and weak worldbuilding.
Melodrama and mindless violence make for a mediocre sequel. (Fantasy. 14-18)