In this sequel to Below (2016), 16-year-old Elia longs to return to her home in the clouds, but she is stuck trying to survive in a harsh world where her dark skin and strange eyes mark her as an outsider.
Hokk, a citizen of Below, braves the badlands to rescue her from the marauders she’s been trapped with for weeks. Together they use the rescued winged donkey and flying horse to return to the floating islands of Above. However, the sun-scorched and desolate island where they land proves to be too much for the fair-skinned Hokk. And while Elia possesses the extra set of eyelids of Above, Hokk lacks this protection. Their only hope for rescue is a family of privileged explorers. Elia quickly finds herself enmeshed in the royal court of Above, but instead of the answers she seeks, she finds only more secrets and lies. Mostly smoothing out the worldbuilding snags that characterized the series opener, this seamless blend of fantasy, dystopia, and myth yields an absorbing tale. The growing bond between Elia and Hokk will enchant true romantics, while the surprising plot twists and ongoing mystery will satisfy readers looking for a dose of danger and action. The pacing is still a bit uneven as the narration shifts among Elia, Hokk, and Tash, a noble girl of Above, and there’s a regrettable reliance on tropes of exoticism. A cliffhanger ending promises another addition.
Unusual and largely engaging. (Fantasy. 12-16)