Evildoers barely foiled in Monstrous Devices (2018) are back in strength to reopen an ominously named “Shadow Gate” in this sequel.
In the wake of a series of seemingly random art thefts, young Alex once again finds himself recruited by his glib, inscrutable Granddad for a running battle across Europe against mind-controlled robots and razor-edged drones. This time most of the action takes place in the Black Forest, where reality turns out to have thin spots. Along with being charged to figure out how to use his elusive, newly discovered powers to resurrect a dead man, Alex must somehow stymie murderous foes bent on a Walpurgisnacht exploit that may confer immortality on them, open a disastrous rent in the universe, or both. Though events set up hard tests of his loyalty and moral fiber, just as in the previous episode Alex comes off as a rather colorless protagonist next to the adult characters—all of whom, on both sides, sport intriguing combinations of martial prowess and mysterious pasts. Still, Love so packs his tale with car chases and wrecks, sudden attacks, desperate battles, narrow squeaks, weird visions, and startling discoveries, not to mention the occasional blast of magic and tentacled monster from otherwhere, that readers will be nonetheless swept along. Alex’s friend David and his family are Haitian, but otherwise characters present as white.
Breathlessly paced adventure with rousingly eerie and icky notes. (Horror/suspense/fantasy. 12-14)