Cope’s sequel to Countryside: The Book of the Wise (2014) sees young Luke and his friends try to outwit a villainous hunter to find the location of a magical artifact.
Luke Rayburn, the 12-year-old scion of the magical town called Countryside, has spent his summer vacation with his family on the island of Shalloke, off the coast of the Carolinas. Before returning to their secret home, the Rayburn clan encounters bane wolves. Luke uses his light training to protect himself with darkness, but his father soon chastises him against doing so again: “It twists your senses and it scars your soul.” The boy also learns that a suspicious character he saw on the train ride home—a grizzled hunter—leads the wolf-pack using darkness. After returning home, Luke helps defend a burning orchard against gnomes and begins further training with Mayeem (a mermaid) and Samech (a centaur). Luke then hears a campfire tale about tragic lovers Peter and Anora—but perhaps the fate of these fictional characters, which is tied up with the wolves’, contains a grain of truth. Eventually, the young hero grows frustrated with the adults keeping him from learning more about the Book of the Wise; aided by Matt, Sam, and a few others, he leaps into the fray against the evil threatening Countryside. Cope uses this second outing, with its large magical cast, to weave another satisfying mystery and continue the long game of his overall tale. Early on, he reminds readers that a prophetic red star to the north foretells doom with the line, “Seems higher this year...Only six years left.” His dynamic of light and darkness recalls Star Wars, as does the mystical theme that “everything is made of the Flame” and that those who ignore it “wear a blindfold.” Nevertheless, the story’s elemental disciplines offer truly open-ended innovations, because, as Samech says, “your ability to use them is controlled by what you can think of and what you think can be done.” The central mystery will draw readers into an enchanting final tableau, leaving expectations galloping for the third volume.
The glimmering continuation of a detailed,
emotionally rich saga.