A teen with special powers must decide if he’ll join a revolution against a wicked empire in this second installment of a YA fantasy-adventure series.
It’s been mere months since the emperor of the walled city of Altryon tried to eliminate Neil Vapros’ family and two others. All three clans, known as Lightborns for the abilities bestowed upon them by the godlike Man with the Golden Light, had been feuding for years. But now Neil and the surviving Lightborns have aligned, having fled Altryon to hide out in the land of Volteria. They use abilities—Neil can expel flames from his hands, for instance—to take out Imperial Army soldiers who come along. The emperor, however, has enlisted the Pack, a group of assassins, led by the Imperial Doctor, a vile man craving dominance and relentlessly developing his “pain index.” Volteria’s people, meanwhile, have formed a rebellion against the empire’s taxes and excessive force. The Lightborns debate joining the revolution, but its enigmatic leader, the Wolf, wants more from Neil. He claims the Man with the Golden Light has given him a cryptic message: a Lightborn forged in fire will bring about a new nation. But is Neil this destined Lightborn? As in his preceding novel, Prue (The Sparks, 2017) generates an impressive momentum with characters in perpetual conflict. This time it’s decidedly amped up, especially the more daunting villains. The Pack, for example, includes the cold and calculating Marksman and the Hyena, whose references to eating potential victims, frighteningly enough, aren’t metaphorical. The story further expands upon the series’ first: there may be more Lightborns than Neil’s aware of, and someone believed to be dead makes a return, for better or worse. Prue writes dialogue boasting a smart, wry sense of humor that’s at its best with menace behind it: when Neil accuses the Doctor of sending an animal (one of the assassins) after his friends, the villain chillingly responds, “You should be more specific.”
Exemplary tale of supernatural warfare and unforgettable characters.