In this Celtic-flavored crossover brick, four modern teenagers are summoned to another world to save it.
Borrowing freely from Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Irish legend in general, Ryan assembles orphaned Alan Duval (or “Duuuvaaalll,” as he is often dubbed by assailants), Kate, Mark, and Mark’s stammering, half-aboriginal sister, Mo, for a quest. He sends them to the magical world of Monisle, formerly known as Tír, where, 2,000 years after the last invasion attempt, the Tyrant of the Wastelands is sending out his Death Legions for a third time. Along with a prophecy, riddles, magical crystals, a giant eye and like standard-issue elements, the author folds in various nonhuman races. These range from the shape-changing Shee—being, as the author puts it with typical hyperbole, “Great cats turning into women, armed with swords!”—to the dwarven Fir Bolg, whose warriors are all long dead but not, climactically, gone. Amid many vague references to their “fate” and “destiny,” the four sail up the mighty titular river on a ship that turns out to be both sentient and a shape-changer itself to do battle with an army led one of the Tyrant’s Septemvile, or inner circle. The end is just as busy as the rest, leaving its heroes poised for sequels.
The author doesn’t make much effort to look beyond the canonical bandwagon for inspiration. (Fantasy. 12-15)