From the Everything but the Kitchen Sink genre of fantasy, this third volume of the Ashtown Burials continues its breakneck pace with myriad characters and plotlines.
Most of the main characters and situations were introduced in previous titles (The Drowned Vault, 2012, etc.), so a solid working knowledge is required to have any sense of events here. Smith siblings Cyrus (Rus-Rus) and Antigone (Tigs) are here joined by their mother, rescued from a coma, and older brother, Dan, who has the gift of prophecy through his dream connection to the transmortal Pythia. Readers wishing for a listing of characters and their relationships will realize soon enough it doesn’t matter all that much, so long as they generally know who is good and who isn’t. The book is practically one long battle as the Smiths and their companions use fantastical weapons and powers to save Ashtown and thus the world. Despite attempts at gender equity, Cyrus’ story takes precedence. One newcomer, an Irish monk nicknamed Niffy (his real name is Boniface), is developed enough to become interesting, but few are on stage long enough for readers to get attached, and many characters from previous books are killed. Though not particularly gory, this is full of disturbing images, and the humor that marked the first book is almost completely absent.
This middle volume of a planned five is for fans only. (Fantasy. 10-14)