In this YA fantasy sequel, a teenage magic student who goes into hiding to avoid a murderous monarch must embark on a secret mission.
In Night’s (The Crowns of Croswald, 2017) first book in this suspense-filled series, orphan and former castle maid Ivy Lovely explored her magical birthright at a school for those with the ability to become scrivenists (spell-casters using quills), came into possession of a broken gemstone of great power, and confronted the terrifying Dark Queen. The repercussions of that encounter and Ivy’s desperate need to find the missing pieces of the Kindred Stone before the Dark Queen does fuel Book II with more chilling mysteries—shadows and shades that seem to have a will of their own and the ominous theft of a black quill, corrupted by its dead owner and locked away for safety—and more of the author’s fertile flights of fancy. Ivy is sent by a storm-propelled, flying “cabby” to the secret town of Belzebuthe, where the sky is lit by stars made of wishes. She warms her feet on her pet scaldron, a small, fire-breathing dragon; “hairies,” Croswald’s common light source, tiny beings whose hair lights up in response to human speech, appear; and Ivy bonds with a wild “invisitaur,” a giant creature that can be seen only when outlined by falling rain or snow. (Night again gives any Harry Potterish similarities her own twist: Quogo matches aren’t a Quidditch-like sport, but a plot-driving competition between resuscitated quills and the magical specialties of departed scrivenists.) The author’s inventiveness doesn’t eclipse her well-defined heroine. Ivy still has fears and insecurities rooted in her past (trepidations the Dark Queen tries to exploit), yet she has gained confidence, made friends, and realized her strength during a brutal incursion into Belzebuthe. That dire event and words that Ivy discovers in a forgotten book set the stage for Night’s third installment of the series.
With a relatable heroine facing challenges in a vivid world of magic and mystery, this tale remains an action-packed treat.