Twelve-year-old Giacomo, his friends, and their Geniuses—magical familiars—survived a huge battle and are now on their way to find the second of three Sacred Tools after series opener Rebel Genius (2016).
In the second installment of the Rebel Geniuses series, DiMartino keeps a swift pace as readers follow the group from the Renaissance Italy–inspired Zizzola to the India-inspired Rachana. The group must stay ahead of the tyrannical Nerezza, her terrifying Genius, and her armies and also convince Rachana—longtime enemies of Zizzola, now under truce—to let them in and back out again with a second Sacred Tool. The four boys, two girls, and their elderly teacher each have strengths that contribute to the group, aided by their charming bird Geniuses. While Giacomo is the main protagonist, there is enough perspective shifting for readers to get to know each character via thought, deed, and motivation. The Rachanans are described as dark, dangerous people but only through the lens of Zizzolans. Readers see more: men and women warriors both skilled and compassionate, a deep spiritual system, and rich culture—including flying horse Geniuses! Zanobius, a Tulpa, or man-made humanoid, has some great scenes in the story as he grapples with his violent past and benevolent present. There are moments of dark horror that give weight to action scenes, tempered by relief when they’re past.
Easy reading with a detailed magical system involving the arts and sacred geometry—an excellent spark to learning more about both in the real world. (Fantasy. 10-14)