After the murder of her immediate family by a jealous uncle, 13-year-old Lady Lilith “Lily” Shadow of Gehenna’s Castle Gloom was handed the reins of royal rule in Shadow Magic (2016).
Having saved her kingdom by magically opening the barrier between the lands of the living and of the dead, she not only has a number of zombies to tend to, but also the critical concern of her court (female sorcery is strictly forbidden). Rejecting antiquated role restrictions, Lily continues to practice magic with the help of her father’s ghost. Tutorials are interrupted when her unlikely comrade, 12-year-old pauper Thorn, brings word that something is afoot in the outlying villages—Gehennish citizens are missing or murdered. Is it trolls or something else? Apart from sexism, the apropos topic of xenophobia (albeit via zombies and trolls) is probed. Lily, Thorn, and a good deal of the court seem to be white and European-ish, but there are touches of the Far and Middle East. Lily’s breeding and entitlement often surface; this could be an endearing flaw as she adjusts to her new role, but she stumbles into brattiness, making unrefined Thorn shine in the dual narrative. And though there’s the go-girl empowerment of Lily’s audacious practice of sorcery, a post-climactic decision is enough to make any burgeoning feminist wince. `
Gothic repast for connoisseurs of tenebrous tales, dark arts, and black eyeliner. (map, cast of characters, illustrations) (Fantasy. 9-13)