Drawing from wildly original tropes and paradigms and populated by a wide cast of characters old and new, this portrait of a magical world just outside mundane reality (here represented by Portland, Ore.) brings the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion.
The opening strikes a somber note as a teenage girl calls up a restless spirit then lightens, turning to Prue and her quest: bringing together toymakers Carol and Esben to rebuild their remarkable mechanical boy. But first, Rachel, Elsie and the valiant Unadoptables must rescue Carol and Martha from the Titan tower, a fiendishly complicated task that depends on the now highly unstable Joffrey Unthank and the Chapeaux Noirs, an “anarcho-syndicalist” collective. Dramatic shifts in tone and mood—by turns politically astute and subversively witty, elegiac, droll and philosophical—are par for the course, while narrative style ranges from intimate to intergalactically distant. These idiosyncrasies make it just about impossible to identify the prospective audience by age. Never mind. Series fans know what awaits, and new readers will quickly determine if it’s for them. Interwoven with Meloy’s compellingly visual word portraits, Ellis’ abundant illustrations, including color plates, again showcase her subtle blend of folk-art simplicity and eldritch imagery.
Like filmmaker Terry Gilliam, Meloy gives his antic imagination full rein to produce work that, if occasionally uneven, is brilliantly sui generis. (Fantasy. 10 & up)