A race to locate a powerful receptacle of terrible dreams puts Ivy and her compatriots in danger underground following the events of series opener The Crooked Sixpence (2017).
In the vast belowground market called Lundinor, humans and races of the dead engage in the buying and selling of a variety of objects. Ivy and her brother, Seb, and their friend Valian (his search for his missing sister set aside in this sequel) attempt to locate the Jar of Shadows before the nefarious Selena Grimes finds it to deploy for her own wretched purposes. The trio must stay a step ahead of Grimes and her scary associate, a sinister shape-shifter called Jack-in-the-Green. The technology in Lundinor has an unusual source: Bits of human souls cause items that in our world would be quite ordinary to work as they do in this place, providing light, mapping, music, virtual reality, and more. The result is both intriguing and often amusing. The jar is one of five valuable and old objects that make up the Great Uncommon Good: a hidden collection that contains possibilities for good—and evil. Bell’s setting and worldbuilding are marvelously inventive and diverting, with creepy and sinister villains and occasional kindness and friendship that will feel pleasantly familiar. Ivy, Seb, and Selena present white; Valian has light-brown skin.
Even if the sheer profusion of details nearly overwhelms the story at moments, the pacing and plotting are robustly energetic, and the inventive momentum and intrigue keep the pages turning. (Fantasy. 9-12)