The second title in Tanner’s Keepers Trilogy delivers a fantasy as thickly plotted as but less successful than Museum of Thieves (2010).
When Goldie and Toadspit witness the kidnapping of Toadspit's sister Bonnie, the two stow away in pursuit on a boat bound for the city of Spoke. When Toadspit is likewise captured, it’s up to Goldie to find the siblings and bring them safely back to the city of Jewel. At times aided by two street urchins, Pounce and mute Mouse (whose dozen white mice play supporting roles), and accompanied by a mysterious cat and the Museum’s slaughterbird, Morg, Goldie tracks elusive villains during Spoke’s Festival of Lies. Everything’s back to front and upside down, and masked people talk in opposites. When Goldie captures one of the Big Lies—a maelstrom-like force in which one’s spoken question is enacted like a wild dream—she connects with her mythical warrior alter-ego, Princess Frisia. By leveraging the Museum’s power and through their own wits, the children thwart their captors. Goldie vows to fight anew for Jewel, where a war fomented by the duplicitous Fugleman is about to begin. The chapters depicting powerful activity in the Big Lie and at the Museum aren’t fully integrated into the main plot—and the clunky Festival of Lies can’t hold a candle to the alluring tumult of the magical Museum.
Muddy, if often riveting. (Fantasy. 9-12)