The second installment of The Nightshade Chronicles doesn’t disappoint.
Nightshade City is populated by intelligent and long-lived rats who escaped from a lab that was conducting experiments on them and then managed to defeat Billycan, an albino rat turned evil and über-violent by a series of injections administered in that same lab. As this volume opens, Juniper and the other citizens of Nightshade discover that Billycan, otherwise known as the White Assassin, is building an army of swamp rats to retake Nightshade City. They also discover something much harder to believe: There is a traitor in their ranks. Someone is in cahoots with Billycan. Who could it possibly be? Juniper and his friends manage to capture Billycan, take him back to Nightshade City and administer a truth serum in hopes of learning the identity of the traitor. But something strange happens when the truth serum is administered. Billycan seems like a different rat. Has he somehow changed, or is it all an act? Many surprises are in store in this volume, surprises that will cause the rats—and readers, too—to reevaluate their perceptions of family, loyalty, justice and culpability. Wagner's worldbuilding carries readers through these heavy themes with ease.
The ending satisfies, but there are some definite loose ends. Look forward to more adventures in Nightshade City. (Animal fantasy. 9-12)