Artist/magician Bridgebelle makes a dangerous bargain in hopes of saving her rabbit community from scheming foxes and supernatural threats.
Having set up a complex backstory and elaborately detailed animal societies in the opener, Secret of the Wind (2018), summarized here in a prose lead-in, the author more or less marks time in this follow-up with a fragmentary, disconnected set of events. When her first megathokcha, a magical talisman made from carrot extract, is stolen, Bridgebelle promises to make another for vengeful fox Hollow even as the religious authorities, or Windist Curatus, in her own settlement drive her away with a decree that all thokchas should be destroyed. Meanwhile, her friend Glee’s attempt to transport another megathokcha known as the Black Sun to the isolated Vale of the Clouds for safety falls afoul of trickster fox Sylvan’s nihilist scheme to summon the malign Broken Feather King from the land of the dead. If the many quick cuts, flashbacks, and scene shifts don’t leave readers bewildered, the cast of lookalike rabbits and foxes should do the trick—Arnhold’s efforts to individualize her naturalistically drawn and colored creatures with occasional accessories and subtle variations in facial features notwithstanding. In the end Bridgebelle is left holding a legendary white carrot that may free either her or her furry folk but not both. Stay tuned.
A muddled middle for a lagomorphic trilogy mired in gloom and doom. (Graphic fantasy. 10-13)