Middle-book syndrome strikes hard in this nouveau-gothic paranormal sequel.
Intrepid girl reporter Kami Glass and her allies expect power-hungry sorcerer Rob Lynburn to take revenge after his murderous schemes are thwarted. When a brilliantly creepy Halloween attack is followed by demands for a midwinter human sacrifice, they are left with only weeks to muster their defenses. It’s a promising setup, but the story provides only perfunctory glimpses of intensive historical research, martial arts practice and magical training, devoting chapters instead to relationship angst: friendships tested by unrequited crushes and families riven by lies and divided loyalties. Kami in particular anguishes over both her romantic triangle with the near-identical Lynburn cousins and the magical link with her that both covet. Shifting viewpoints start plot threads that simply disappear, and while the snarky banter is as witty as ever, it sits oddly amid all the interpersonal melodrama and looming danger. The (mostly offstage) villains finally return in a bloody confrontation, with disastrous results only surpassed by the macabre slaughter the supposed good guys inflict on their own side. Everything leads to a gruesome cliffhanger contrived to leave readers desperate for the final volume.
A hot mess of a book but weirdly compelling; buy where the first has eager fans. (Fantasy. 12 & up)