The death of Nivian, beloved Lady of the Lake, prompts a second expedition into the Fae Otherworld for Merlin’s intrepid talking dog and his human “pack.”
Discovering that the only hope of revivifying his kindly friend is a drink from the fabled Grail of Life, Nosewise hesitates not, plunging back into the Winter Lands in search of long-lost Camelot, where the chalice is said to reside. Needless to say, challenges await—from dire wolves and dragons to immensely powerful Queen Mab, mind-altering “sovereign of dreams.” Even scarier, so powerful are the Grail’s contents, it turns out, that the merest drop or sip causes anything mortal to grow and die in a moment. Gale makes excellent use of this last notion, first to provide a spectacularly squishy setting for a climactic scene featuring burgeoning mounds of rotting fruit and fungi, and second for his compulsively gabby protagonist to demonstrate not only true heroism, but uncharacteristic restraint in carrying the magical draft himself for the journey’s suspenseful final leg. In Phillips’ elaborately modeled illustrations Nosewise resembles an overstimulated Akita—white, like Merlin, capable apprentice wizard Morgana, hopelessly feckless young Arthur, and the rest of the two-legged supporting cast.
Readers won over by Nosewise’s heart and doggy point of view in The Wizard’s Dog (2017) will welcome him back. (Fantasy. 10-13)