When nefarious excavators set off a volcanic eruption in Draconia, the country’s telepaths pool their skills to save the city in this latest YA fantasy series installment.
Purpus (The Girl, the Gryphon, and the Dragon, 2014, etc.) offers her sixth entry about the Four Nations (Draconia, Forbury, Granvale, and Sanwight), where humans bond magically with dragons, gryphons, unicorns, and dolphins, respectively. Chloe, the mage of the entire world and the head of Pathfinder Academy, finds herself mentoring two troubled teens: Rya, who’s come to live in the town of Havenshold with her bonded partner, Artemis the fox, for a carpentry apprenticeship; and Arryn, who turns up on the doorstep of the library where Chloe lives. The townsfolk work to integrate them both into a more supportive environment for learning and healing. Havenshold’s leaders discover that a shopkeeper, who recently kept Arryn prisoner, is in cahoots with greedy miners who plan to extract riches from the dormant volcano underneath the town. When Rya establishes contact with the mind of the sentient volcano—named Jaluhz—she realizes that it’s reawakening. Soon, the miners’ detonations release a lava flow that threatens to engulf the town. Havenshold’s mage and a group of telepaths of all species must devise a plan to shift the flow away from their homes and channel it to the sea in the most nondestructive way possible. This story has a good heart and provides a pleasant alternative to the dystopia and aggression of other recent YA tales. However, its vast number of characters is unwieldy—more than 60, nearly all carried over from previous installments—and readers may wonder if everyone needed to be in on the present action. Although it’s evident that the author wants to demonstrate a world of consensus, consideration, and eco-awareness, the resulting interminable committee meetings and recapitulations of back story often slow the plot to a snail’s pace. It also wouldn’t have hurt to model productive disagreement instead of a stark dichotomy between a united front of good guys and the selfish, individual bad guys.
Newcomers should probably begin earlier in this fantasy series, but fans will no doubt enjoy reading the further adventures of old friends.