This fourth installment of a YA fantasy-adventure series transports a resolute hero back to a magical realm.
Picking up where the third book left off, this volume opens with the protagonist, Dan Hillman, just after he arrives in Inland, this time with his friends Josh and Alice (who is new to this fairyland). To save his changeling girlfriend, Maggie, from the sinister sorceress Sister, Dan had interfered with Sister’s gate to Inland, sending her to that world’s version of South America. Now the trio has followed her to prevent Sister from using Maggie’s “truename” against her. Dan is no stranger to Inland, but this is his first time in South America, which is populated not by European-style hobgoblins and fairies, but by Andean muki, with their backward feet, and Condor People. Though this is new territory for Dan, he has mystical friends to call on even here, from the healer Auki to the Gatekeeper Crackerbones, and a special power of “threeness” from traveling to the area with his two close friends. And he’ll need the help, because this escapade sees him trekking from the jungles of South America to the fairy Marrowland, where Dan and Maggie will have to confront not only Sister, but also the changeling’s family history. Rosegrant’s (Rattleman, 2016, etc.) latest novel in his series widens the worldbuilding of Inland, taking the reader to new places, examining the Old Ways of the fairies, and painting in the history of Maggie and Sister, the human who had been swapped for the changeling. There’s plenty of action in this tale and also a measured amount of YA reflection: when things go wrong, Dan sinks into a bad mood, but even when his plans work out, he feels melancholic and wonders why. But Dan and his friends aren’t mopey: they keep a sense of humor throughout (“Hashtag WowBlameTheVictim,” says Alice about how the fairies treat Maggie). And the fact that Dan is a fantasy fan makes him easy to identify with—he offers the same comparisons to Tolkien that the reader is tempted to supply.
Another exuberant entry that explores the Inland world.