This second installment in the Iron Codex series is as inventive and as bloated as its predecessor.
Spoiled, inconsistent, often-thoughtless heroine Aoife Grayson nearly destroyed the world when she broke the Lovecraft Engine and sundered the gates between the worlds of human and Fae. But she’s not going to let a little thing like that stop her, so she sets off on an exhausting, somewhat episodic adventure through the steampunk-horror ’50s nightmare that is her world. She meets Erlkin, spends time with her estranged father, travels in a sub with Russian pirates and tries to play off her many enemies against one another. In so doing, she awakens a much greater threat with little regard to consequences. And she experiences love and loss, but her first-person narration sometimes strains credulity. Aoife states things she cannot know, says contrary things repeatedly (about her own emotions, the behavior of others, even the setting) and provides exposition at moments of high emotional tension, lessening the impact. Secondary characters exist only to move the plot along and then conveniently fade into the background, much like aspects of Aoife’s personality. Even so, the unusual world stands out.
There is a fan base that loved book one and will clamor for more of the same, which this certainly is. The ending promises even bigger adventures to come. (maps) (Steampunk/horror/fantasy. 12 & up)