This Unwanteds (2011) sequel lacks the magic of the first book in more ways than one.
Now that both Artimé and Quill are free states and their rulers continue to work toward mutual peace, Artimé’s leader, mage Marcus Today, who’s worked every day for the last 50 years, wants to take a holiday. He taps former Unwanted Alex to train to serve in his place. Instead of focusing on the students’ creativity and burgeoning magical abilities, this second novel delves into leadership and gives readers plenty to think about concerning qualities and motivation. The third-person narration alternates between Alex and his doubts in his ability to lead and his vengeful twin brother, Aaron, who, after getting kicked out of Quill’s university and losing his Wanted status, plots to become the new high priest of Quill. With the help of secret agents, Aaron hopes to start another war with Artimé and take over their land as well—even if it means defeating his brother. Aaron’s schemes take so long to materialize, however, that there’s little action for stretches of the story. Despite the occasional slow pacing, the discovery of surrounding islands, including one that renders its captives mute in a horrific manner, lends enough adventure to keep fans satisfied.
A cliffhanger ending with plenty of unsolved mysteries ensures the return of readers in the next installment. (Fantasy. 9-13)