A teeming cast, a mare’s nest of plotlines and characters with ambiguous agendas muddle this sequel to The Brimstone Key (2010).
The morass of steampunk and fantasy conventions includes giant armored battle suits and flying cars, zombies, magical weapons and shapechanging Faerie familiars. In the midst of this, the four young Grey Griffins begin to drift apart. Natalia makes new friends, and Ernie, still smarting over events from the previous volume, splits off to lead a band of costumed vigilantes. Meanwhile, Harley becomes the assistant to a renowned inventor who is wasting away from an unidentified illness, and Max has confusing visions of the supposedly evil Otto Von Strife. This last character’s conveniently available notebook reveals that he’s building a world-threatening Paragon Engine. Led by mysterious instructor Obadiah Strange, the Grey Griffins reunite first on a failed mission that leaves them watching as Von Strife’s teleporting associate Smoke whisks away both Strange and a magical (?) relic called the Schrödinger Box, then to mount an attack on the Paragon Engine that ends in a cliffhanger. Readers hoping to keep track of who’s who and what’s where will definitely want to start with the previous episode, but they are likely to feel that they’ve wasted their time after a climactic revelation renders the entire plot nonsensical.
There's a lot better out there than this. (Steampunk. 11-13)