A tireless hero must contend with a sorceress to ensure the gates to a magical world don’t close permanently in this fifth entry of a YA series.
Dan Hillman is once again in the magical realm of Inland. He and his changeling girlfriend, Maggie, have finally located the First Changing Beast, a mysterious being stuck in the Shadowlands lying somewhere between Inland and Outland (the normal world). If Dan can free the beast, the slowly closing gates between the two realms will likely stay open. This is harder than it sounds: Inland sorceress Sister, the mortal who had been swapped years ago for fairy Maggie, is controlling the beast. Dan and Maggie have learned Sister’s “truename,” which can reverse her power over the creature. But Dan first has to decipher the name’s twofold meaning. Recent information indicates Sister and her army are plotting an attack against the Gatekeepers in Gatemoodle. Dan’s worries are compounded when he and a handful of friends hear the wail of the enigmatic Skriker, which means one of them will die. Sadly, following a grim battle, Dan indeed loses a loved one. He consequently makes a decision he knows will entail sacrificing one of his freedoms, but he can’t foresee the devastating loss he will ultimately endure. From the opening pages, there’s a sense of trepidation in Rosegrant’s (Marrowland, 2017, etc.) novel. As the fantasy series has already established Sister and the need to find the beast, Dan and allies are immediately discussing strategy and the impending battle, generating a wealth of suspense. The author likewise aptly describes action involving mythical creatures: “The two ugly giants charged, scything their trees above their heads…kobolds and goblins swarmed behind them in a landslide.” Dan is a sympathetic protagonist; his genuine connection to so many individuals, including pals in Outland, should have readers sharing his fear for the Skriker’s destined victim. The ending packs a punch, and though a few more installments are feasible, this book shows signs of the series’ forthcoming conclusion.
An inventive and briskly paced addition to a fantasy saga.