Book 2 in the Seelie Wars fantasy trilogy moves the plot along…a bit.
Prince Aspen , now disguised as a minstrel and calling himself Karl, with former midwife’s apprentice Snail disguised as his companion, is on the run through Seelie lands, hunted by both Seelie and Unseelie armies. Their prickly interpersonal interactions are tempered by a possible growing fondness as well as their mutual need to survive. By chance, they join up with what seems to be a traveling troupe of players whose cast of characters includes dwarf siblings, a man named Professor Odds and a beautiful woman. As the players’ cart lumbers along, unfortunately so does the plot. Action is replaced by the riddles and wordplay with which the professor and dwarfs communicate, and readers may find this more tedious than intriguing. More fey creatures are introduced to the already-plentiful variety that inhabits this world, but instead of adding richness, the overall impression is of an abiding busyness, without enough connection. (The animated rug is an exception.) Eventually Snail has a revelation about both herself and the real purpose of the troupe that turns her world on its head. Aspen, meanwhile, confronts his own coming-of-age moment, and by the end, the plot starts moving forward more energetically.
This flattish story needs more depth in both narrative arc and characterization to sparkle. (Fantasy. 8-12)