A boy and his elf and dwarf pals search for a power source to restore defenses for a mythical city in Doherty’s (Thomas Holland and the Prophecy of Elfhaven, 2014) latest YA fantasy.
A mere two weeks ago, Thomas Holland passed through a portal in Chicago and entered Elfhaven. The 13-year-old, now best friends with elven girl Avani and dwarf boy Goban, helped the city retain its weakening barrier, powered by a building called the Citadel. Tom jumping the Citadel with his robot Chloe’s battery, however, is only a temporary solution. A permanent fix may be the artifact, a mysterious power source inside a crashed spacecraft somewhere in the ogres’ realm. Tom manages to overhear two unknown individuals discussing what sounds like a plan to betray King Dakshi’s quest to retrieve the artifact. To get to the monarch in time, Tom and company, including his perpetually drooling Saint Bernard, Max, and Prince Devraj, take a shortcut, braving what even palace guards will not: Demon Forest. Believing they might be too late to warn the king’s party of a potential trap, Tom and the rest forge ahead to find the artifact themselves. But there’s a myriad of obstacles they must overcome, from an evil wizard and trolls to a blizzard and a volcano of steaming geysers and bubbling mud pots. The author’s second series entry gets off to a running start: Tom hears baddies whispering about a diabolical plot within the first few pages. The story’s unshakable momentum takes the young protagonist, et al., through the unnerving Cave of Dreams, complete with a riddle and five tunnels to choose from, and the deceptively peaceful Realm of Fairie. Excitement, too, is elevated, knowing the barrier’s power is on the verge of expiring, while Tom’s Uncle Carlos back on Earth is trying to reopen the portal without something exploding. Humor comes primarily from Max; he’s a worthy sidekick (tracking down others to help), but also adorable even when disobedient (sure, he shouldn’t eat phosphorescent cave worms, but they do give him a glowing-green tongue). Doherty’s breezy prose speeds through exposition, so readers new to the series won’t be lost—or bored.
Familiar creatures and an otherworld setting, but a persistently fun tale chock-full of energy.