Plainly averse to messing with a successful formula (albeit one more closely associated with another author) Haberdasher (pen name for Robyn Schneider) returns to the politically tense “Britonian Isles” of her Knightley Academy (2010) for more boarding school pranks and intrigue.
Roaming freely about the conveniently deserted halls of both Knightley Academy and a rival school in the Stalinist North, first-year student and mysterious orphan Henry Grim and sidekicks exchange friendly insults, discover additional hidden rooms, organize an illegal weapons club that somehow remains a secret to most of the student body and join a clandestine counterrevolutionary cabal. Once again massive contrivances are required to keep things moving: As Henry and his garrulous roommate Adam, food-loving scion of Jewish bankers, sneak with relative ease back and forth across a guarded border, for instance, on one trip they run into the female lead, Frankie, who has just happened to run away and surprise! hidden on that very train. Also as before, despite talking a good line of spunk, Frankie serves no role beyond upsetting others or putting them into danger.
Still, as new friendships form and older ones fade, clouds of war gather and Henry and Frankie finally get around to snogging, this muggleverse’s characters, settings and themes offer at least the comfort of familiarity to Harry Potter fans. (Fantasy. 11-13)