In the trilogy finale, young apothecary Raffa seeks his own way to save Obsidia’s abused animals and exiled citizens.
This sequel to Cavern of Secrets (2017) deftly introduces the timely theme of intolerance and the importance of caring about people who are different. Raffa escapes from prison in Gilden as the Chancellor banishes all inhabitants of Gilden’s slums to uninhabitable wastelands. Known as Afters because their ancestors fled to Obsidia after the Great Quake destroyed their homelands two centuries before, many of those targeted for persecution often have darker skin than Obsidia’s original “fair-skinned” settlers. Realizing he and his dark-skinned friend Kuma are both at least partly of After descent (his skin is light brown), Raffa’s incensed by the Chancellor’s unjust edict and joins an opposition group secretly evacuating Afters to the Forest of Wonders to prepare to fight. Using his apothecary skills in service of the cause, Raffa concocts temporary-acting botanical weapons and antidotes to protect affected animals. Outnumbered and unarmed, Raffa, Kuma, and assorted animal helpers (including the charismatic talking bat Echo) unite with the Afters in a harrowing standoff against the Chancellor. The thoughtful, suspenseful third-person narration focuses on the resolution of Raffa’s long quest for the moral imperative driving his life and profession. Black-and-white illustrations feature animal characters and key venues.
A satisfying, moving, smashing finale with a very relevant message. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)