Book 2 in the middle-grade Luck Uglies trilogy (The Luck Uglies, 2014) continues the adventure in the fantasy world of the Shale.
The despicable Earl Morningwig Longchance has hired a new Constable who is clamping down on Village Drowning and especially the O’Chanter family. Twelve-year-old Rye O’Chanter, her mother, Abby, younger sister, Lottie, and Rye’s two best friends, Folly and Quinn, flee to the Isle of Pest, where Abby was raised. On Pest, life seems safe as Rye meets her long-lost grandfather and makes friends with village children, but she is troubled by the black stones she keeps finding—earlier in her shoe at Village Drowning, then in her pocket and again on her windowsill on Pest. Curiosity leads Rye to the notorious Wailing Cave and the unwelcome discovery of the dark side of her father’s Luck Uglies brotherhood—a splinter group called the Fork-Tongue Charmers. Durham’s ambitious plot is chock-full of twists but is occasionally hard to follow due to inconsistencies and the addition of too many characters, who divert readers’ attention. As in Book 1, Durham shades his main characters with plenty of nuance, but the crowded plot leaves little space for readers to absorb it.
Generally successful, this adventuresome second installment entertains and leaves dangling ends to set up the third. (Fantasy. 9-13)