Dan Hillman and friends are back in this YA fantasy-adventure sequel.
In Rosegrant’s debut, Gatemoodle (2013), Dan discovered that another world called Inland exists alongside our own. There, with the help of a guide named Billy Portman, Dan encountered mermaids and goblins and fairies, and found out that his crush-turned-girlfriend Maggie had actually been a supernatural being all along. Now, back in the real world, Dan can’t shake thoughts of Inland, and he’ll do anything to be reunited with Maggie, who went off to find the Moss Maidens, whom she believes are her ancestors. Luckily, Dan gets a chance to return to Inland while on a trip to Palenque in Mexico. Accompanied by his best friend, Josh, and new friend, Graciela, the daughter of a shaman, he enters a portal and finds himself back in the fantasy land. The first book focused on a fairy world based on English and Irish tales, but this one starts off in Mexico, which gives Inland another flavor altogether: Dan meets Quetzalcoatl and Mexican water spirits, cousins of Gatemoodle’s Nellie, a mermaid-type creature. This adds an intriguing layer to this series’ world; if each area of Inland represents the myths and legends and dreams of the portal’s location, the possibilities for adventure are almost limitless. After a surprisingly short time, Dan locates Billy Portman, as well as Maggie, who has certainly changed—she speaks with a different cadence, and has learned the ways of the Moss Maidens. Although she has no desire to return home, she still misses certain Outlanders, and feels like she doesn’t quite belong in Inland. Together, she and Dan set out to find the “First Changing Beast,” a creature who can help them pass between Inland and Outland more easily, whenever they desire. Rosegrant doesn’t provide readers with much information about the First Changing Beast—such as why its ability hasn’t been used before, though the creation of portals does seem to be a major issue. However, even without such explanation, the story is slowly growing into its unique setting. Dan continues to be a likable character, and readers will likely be interested to see how he develops in future books. That said, the story also touches upon darker themes, including rape, which may be jarring for some, as the overall tone is light and humorous.
A solid YA
sequel that offers a wider worldview and deeper themes of responsibility.