A 16-year-old, his parents, and his magical sprite girlfriend are threatened by a conspiracy of corporate villains on Earth and an Emperor from another world in the second book in Goodell and Bright’s (The Harmonies of Magic, 2017) YA fantasy series.
In the previous installment, most of the action took place on Earth’s unseen twin planet, Bespri, the home of sprites and of magic made possible by the mysterious Harmonies. There, teenager Ben had found himself in the middle of a conflict between the land of Feyr, ruled by an authoritarian Emperor, and the land of Caldae, whose benevolent queen was leading her people into democracy. Having played a major role in preventing the Emperor from suborning the magical Harmonies, Ben and his newly reunited parents now assume that the Emperor’s threats to their well-being are over. In this outing, Goodell and Bright prove that assumption wrong, mixing action (including some mild violence), suspense, and character-building dilemmas into a renewed conspiracy involving the scheming Emperor; Ben’s computer scientist mother, Kate Palmer; and a secret artificial-intelligence project. Ben, in training to become a Guardian of Caldae, returns to Earth with the object of his affection, the strong sprite princess Mizli, to deal with kidnappers, an increased number of Feyrens on Earth, and a plan that could affect life on both planets. In the struggle, Ben discovers his own nascent magical abilities, and, without any off-putting preachiness, the authors once again weave character-building messages into the plot: specifically, Ben and Mizli’s challenges with self-doubt and the value of critical thinking and informed decision-making. The story is deepened by its vivid settings, strong female characters, the diversity of Bespri’s inhabitants, the Caldens’ efforts toward democratic government, and opportune appearances of enigmatic, wisdom-imparting beings. However, the authors might have considered trimming some expository passages and frequent statements that Ben is bored with school. Also, stronger proofreading is a must, as a good portion of the second chapter is repeated whole-cloth.
An often engaging tale that should keep readers hooked with a blend of magic, high-stakes action, and the continuing growth of its likable teen protagonist.