When Verity and her friends destroyed the Mistress (Mistress of the Storm, 2011), they thought peace had been restored. However, the sands are sifting.
The Mistress, they discover, was as merciless to her own family as to humans. Providing the background, Welsh inserts a tale of love and deception as compelling as any fairy tale: Jealous of her sister’s devoted lover, the Mistress had tricked and crushed the Earth Witch, hiding her heart and thus keeping her scattered. With the Mistress gone, the Earth Witch is gathering her millions of pieces, bent on unleashing her revenge on all. The descriptions of the hissing, invasive sand are eerie. The Earth Witch is attempting to scrub out all the happy stories stored under the library in a secret room. They, in particular, librarian Miss Cameron explains, “keep things as we know them to be.” If the premise is a bit weak, the action is not. Verity is threatened by a deranged teacher—the Earth Witch’s servant—as the two race to find the Earth Witch’s heart. As before, the setting is well-drawn, and Verity’s loyal friends, including her romantic interest, are by her side, providing easy banter even as the situation becomes dire. With a final plot twist as shattering as an earthquake, the Earth Witch’s story comes to its tragic conclusion.A story sure to grip readers by the heart. (Fantasy. 8-12)