The peculiar residents of Eldritch Manor return.
In what is basically a rerun with a few more characters, 12-year-old Willa once again interacts with the odd senior citizens (actually mythical creatures in human form) that she first encountered at their retirement home in Book 1. As in the first book, the plot revolves around forces of evil in the form of spreading dark holes from which unpleasant creatures emerge. Willa, the quarrelsome senior citizens, and myriad fantasy beings engage in battle with the evil creatures. While the story’s bones have potential, the members of the plot’s too-large cast of characters are too thinly sketched to engage readers’ connection, and even Willa, the protagonist, comes across as more flat than intriguing. A weak plot twist carries little resonance, as the character it involves is one-dimensional, and its overall theme—anger contributes to evil—is presented in a tension-killing, obvious, didactic manner. While the story contains much action, it relies heavily on telling rather than showing, which has the effect of coming across as repetitive and confusing rather than heart-racing. A promising storyline—that of Willa’s grandmother, begun in Book 1—does not develop here.
A story whose idea has potential but that needs characters with real depth and a more complex and consistent plot to have impact. (Fantasy. 8-11)