McTiernan (Lilly Noble & Actual Magic, 2016) returns to the mystical world of 14-year-old Lilly Noble as danger follows her home from school.
Lilly Noble, a girl who can literally smell when someone lies, has settled back in with her father, a mystical exterminator, in the small town of Archer’s Bow. She recently returned from Bonaventure Academy, a university for the magically gifted. Now, her town is under assault by overly active ghosts and other strange phenomena, from strange weather to mermaids abandoning the sea to socks that won’t stay up. Lilly’s evil stepmother, Morgann, whom she thought she’d already vanquished, is behind these sinister new machinations. Although Morgann is dead and imprisoned in the First Circle of The Inferno, she’s using her ghostly, disembodied form to set magical traps and steal people’s shadows, so she that may return to life and claim Lilly’s powers. As the teenager does battle with this phantom menace, she must also balance the relatively normal, but no less stressful, trials of a teenage girl; specifically, she finds herself torn between her old crush Konnor and her overprotective, fire-wielding classmate, Murosky Skaggs. This installment expands on McTiernan’s ill-defined world of magic, but it offers little that will help new readers catch up. Much of what made Lilly’s first outing so charming—the dynamics between her and her fellow students—is gone here. However, a new and eclectic cast of characters, including a simpering troll demon, a heroic cat, a psychic aunt, and Lilly’s gossipy friend Grace, who’s hiding magical abilities of her own, make Archer’s Bow an engaging setting. The darkness that invades the town brings unique horrors, and McTiernan manages to conjure chills from things as simple as a falling sock.
A mostly effective paranormal-YA follow-up, featuring intriguing new characters.