The Shadow World
by Jane Johnson
In Book Two of The Eidolon Chronicles
, not only Ben Arnold but his whole family plunge into the "Secret Country" of Eidolon, where Ben's mother is Queen Isadora, Ben's sisters are princesses, and Ben himself is a prince. To begin, the queen returns to her troubled and blighted land, hoping to gather enough supporters to drive out the towering, dog-headed villain known as the Dodman. She brings with her the infant Princess Alice, whose precocious mind is immediately enlivened by the magic of Eidolon. But Ben's resentful older sister Ellie follows them in and is soon captured by the Dodman. Ben and his entirely non-magical father go after her and end up in trouble of their own. In short order, the family is scattered across this magical kingdom, struggling against the forces of evil on several fronts, and aided in their quest by a talking cat, a centaur, a mermaid, dragons, selkies, fairies, and other amazing creatures - including a couple of terrifyingly big and powerful ones.
It is hard not to share the royal family's discouragement as they find their world, their kingdom, dying under the Dodman's evil, vampirelike abuse; filled with resentful and uncooperative creatures who blame the queen for abandoning them; and loaded with scary dangers and appalling cruelty. But the Dodman has a weakness, and it isn't just the low class of minion he is forced to put up with (stupid giants and goblins, for instance). Like a certain Harry Potter foe who shall not be named, he is missing something that the Arnold family has aplenty, and that transforms the creatures around them - selfish, cowardly, and even monstrous creatures - into willing allies and devoted friends.
Here is a thrilling and heartwarming young-readers' adventure by an author who writes adult fiction under the names Gabriel King and Jude Fischer, and who, for some time, edited the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. It has fiendish villains (several of them), an adorable cat named Iggy, a few blushes of young love, and a climax that might be called hair-raising if it weren't so very, very wet. And if the ending leaves you hungry for more, take heart: the third book in this series is now available, and it is titled Dragon's Fire.
Recommended Age: Age: 10+
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