Kara and Prince Fred’s mission to rescue Kara’s father turns into saving all of Heldstone.
After defeating the evil Sorceress in The Battle for Urth (2016), Kara (a pale-skinned Latina) and Prince Fred (a white Heldstonian) have returned to his castle. But the palace is swarming with dignitaries gathered for the big Luminary Ball, including dangerous-seeming Grand Duke Sturmenburg and Fred’s childhood friend, now mean-girl (and aspiring royal bride) Francesca. To eliminate competition for Fred’s hand, Francesca locks Kara on a balcony; when Kara escapes to the next balcony, she overhears Sturmenberg and the Sorceress, who’s survived as a magical shadow, plotting a coup. Kara and Fred’s talking cat, Xyler, manage to save him from the poison but must flee before they can rescue Fred’s parents. On the run, they befriend a vegetarian, free-range-chicken–farming troll and liberate all the enslaved acts of a traveling carnival—including the Elektro-Magician, Kara’s Argentinian-American electrician father—before turning their attention back to rescuing Fred’s poisoned parents. Kara and Fred share the alternating, present-tense narration; their voices are not particularly differentiated, so readers will need to pay attention to chapter-heading cues. The device does, however, help to boost tension by facilitating cliffhanger chapter endings. Heldstone’s diversity appears to reside mostly in its magical beings; the book assumes a white default.
Lightweight, fluffy fun—especially good for kids just embarking on reading fantasy. (Fantasy. 8-12)