In the second of the series, 12-year-old Amos unwittingly takes on a hazardous mission: He’s killed so he can pass into and fix a netherworld crowded with dead souls who aren’t being permitted to pass on to their appointed fates.
Amos is a clever mask wearer, a sorcerer who ultimately must acquire four masks and the special stones that empower the masks. He still needs three more masks and 15 stones until warrior queen Lolya gives him the mask of fire. But the gift is intended to lure Amos into a quest to the City of the Dead, where the masks are useless, a dangerous place thrown into turmoil by disagreements among various gods. Once there Amos receives aid against numerous enemies from a varied cast of cardboard characters, many of whom are figures from mythology (explained in a lexicon). The translation from the French is sometimes slightly awkward: “His wounded eye bled abundantly.” While Amos and his best friend Beorf, a man-bear, are likable, that doesn’t make up for an excess of telling instead of showing readers the fast-paced, confusing tale.
Perhaps readers of the first in the series will want to continue on, but this effort neither stands alone nor compels. (Fantasy. 10-14)