The plot deepens and expands in Book 3 of the middle-grade Luck Uglies series.
Plucky protagonist Rye O’Chanter, her little sister, Lottie, and their parents, Abby and Harmless, are hiding out in Beyond the Shale, the forest beyond the Village Drowning. The Fork-Tongue Charmers, evil splinter group of the Luck Uglies, want to kill Harmless, the High Chieftain of the Luck Uglies, so that Slinister, their leader, can claim leadership. Determined to settle this power struggle, which is destroying the Village Drowning and unbalancing the land around it, Harmless sends Rye into Village Drowning to call a Reckoning—a final deliberation among all members of the Luck Uglies to determine who will be High Chieftain. But this, as it turns out, is perilous. Durham paints a story of good vs. evil with gray rather than black and white. Harmless is not harmless and hints to Rye that he has done awful things. Slinister may not be as sinister as his reputation colors him. And in trying to save Village Drowning, Rye makes a decision that could destroy more than it saves. The plentiful action and well-conceived settings will keep readers turning the pages, although they may unintentionally keep the underlying theme of the destruction created by lust for power and its inevitable cost to innocents from being felt as keenly as it should be.
Well-written, action-packed, with a timeless, timely theme. (Fantasy. 8-13)