While the people who sought refuge behind the walls of Alnwick Castle suffer high casualties from the Horologia virus, Duchess Alyssa holds fast as all await Doc’s search for a cure in this sequel to Everland (2016).
When Doc discovers that the virus is poison, he identifies the only cure as a rare apple that he believes no longer exists. Alyssa and her comrades suspect that the now-evil Princess Katt and her eccentric comrade, Maddox Hadder, may have knowledge of it. Against all judgment, Alyssa enters the Poison Garden alone to meet with Maddox, its caretaker, who hosts a euthanasia party there, offering assisted suicide to the dying. Since both are infected, Alyssa and Maddox become unlikely allies as they travel to the Black Forest to seek out the mysterious apple tree, while those back at Alnwick ban together to fend off Princess Katt’s attempt at usurpation. Told in rotation by returning characters Pete and Jack as well as Alyssa, this steampunk sequel expands from its Peter Pan premise to deliver an offbeat Alice in Wonderland–style jaunt through a psychedelic maze populated by quirky and sometimes-deadly threats as the characters race to see who can get to the apple tree first—some for a cure, others for control. Spinale makes nods to modern England’s diversity, but the principal cast members, like the characters they are based on, seem to be white.
An unpredictable page-turner spun with dread, humor, and unexpected alliances. (Urban fantasy. 14-adult)