The second installment of The Books of Elsewhere (The Shadows, 2010) is a by-the-book fantasy follow-up.
Olive has yet to find a solution to the last plot thread left over from the first volume—Morton is trapped, unable to rejoin the world outside of the McMartins’ enchanted paintings. Meanwhile, the Linden Street setting is enriched through greater focus on Olive's neighbors, especially new kid Rutherford Dewey. When Olive inexplicitly blurts out the McMartin family's magical secret to Rutherford, he educates her on witches' grimoires. Olive is sure that Aldous McMartin's spellbook holds the key to helping Morton, despite her suspicions about Rutherford—he seems to know too much—and the fact that she'd be playing with an evil wizard's spellbook. The ancient McMartin grimoire is as old as the plot device of the untrustworthy magical object. Furthermore, Olive often acts as a slave to plot contrivances rather than as a character. The characters do not trust each other enough to communicate basic information, leading to arbitrary misunderstandings cleared up just in time for a climax that resolves little. Fortunately, zany cat Harvey's multiple characters and Rutherford's set of quirks help pull the story out of Olive's pace-slowing introspection.Definitely the middle of the story, designed to set up further conflicts and sequels for readers already invested in the series. (Fantasy. 9-12)