A teenager who refuses to believe a prophecy that he will be New York’s next superhero faces dark events and otherworldly messengers in this second volume of a middle-grade series.
It isn’t necessary to have read Janney’s (The Phantom of New York—Volume I, Peter and the Crown, 2017, etc.) first fantasy installment to enjoy this eventful sequel, but it will deepen readers’ experience to know just how 13-year-old Peter Constantine began his odyssey to supernatural crime fighting. Of Greek descent, the teen lives with his father, Manos, and mother, Jovanna, at The Crown, a luxury hotel in New York. The family fled there when a dangerous fugitive known as The Client threatened to murder Manos for reporting his criminal activities to the police. Manos serves as The Crown’s building superintendent; Jovanna labors in the hotel’s laundry; and Peter, who feels an odd affinity for the hotel, is being mentored by a magician, an etiquette maven, a boxing coach, and a circus blade-thrower. Among the teen’s peers are a spunky girl from India; a video gamer from Japan; and a kind, rich white girl. Hawkins, who is black, brilliant, and homeless, lives part-time with Peter’s family. Peter, who secretly thwarted an attack on the hotel by The Client and his Red Masque syndicate in the first book, still disbelieves the hotel ghost’s pronouncement that he has been chosen as the next Phantom, a legendary superhero. His reluctance to accept his fate may frustrate some readers, but within these supernatural trappings, Janney has deftly crafted the coming-of-age story of a young teen whose innate good character and experiences in the real and magical worlds are preparing him for the future. With humor, imagination, and fine-tuned suspense, the author mixes in bullies, a Phantom wannabe, a mouse-turned-faery, circus animals, a mysterious key, a sword with strange qualities, and a ghostly twist. When a circus troupe moves into the hotel, Peter and his friends act on the boy’s suspicions that The Client and the Red Masque are hiding within the company, attempting to find treasures rumored to bestow magical powers on the finders. The surprise conclusion hints at a third book to come.
A substantive and enjoyable fantasy featuring colorful characters, a real-world setting, and the believable journey of a young protagonist to a magical destiny.