Three children continue their mission to ensure the world’s survival in this fantasy sequel.
In the first installment of this series, the white Temple kids—older sister Julie and her brother, Leo—along with their African American neighbor Annabel—sailed in a magical, invisible flying boat on a quest to free water sprites from their monstrous captors. This was the first step in reuniting humans with elementals (such as dwarfs and fairies), ushering in the new age of light. But a great battle is still to be fought, with the children playing an essential role. As Brathnar, King of the Dwarfs, explains, many forces “desire the destruction of the inner light and our shared world….Earth’s fate depends on you.” The kids make a long and perilous journey to bring the Water of Light from deep underground and distribute it (in the form of magical seeds) as healing medicine for Mother Earth’s droughts and wildfires. The threesome also discover what’s happened to Annabel’s missing older brother, Massud, and retrieve an essential artifact that helps them and the elemental powers battle Zuratrat, the fearsome Molten Dragon. Succeeding could heal the world, gain a treasure, and make many wishes come true. The author continues the fun, thrills, and lively characters from the series opener (The Invisible Boat, 2014) in this follow-up for fourth graders and up. Readers learn more about the neighbors in the Temples’ brownstone who contribute to the quest; Mr. Hoover, for example, is a private detective, and he helps the three children nail down clues related to Massud. Müller’s (Rounding the Cape of Good Hope, 2017, etc.) ending nicely brings all the good guys together for a conclusion that’s logical and satisfying. The author’s descriptions, especially of settings, are a joy, with well-chosen details to linger over, whether the location is a fantasy landscape, a magic shop, or a detective’s office. As before, the book has an urgently serious message of ethical responsibility to the environment, but it doesn’t feel preachy thanks to the story’s highly colored adventures.
A fine tale with well-conceived quests, strong characters, exciting confrontations, and a delightful resolution.