Publisher: Scholastic (6th April 2017)
In a world ruled by six ancient Houses of Magic, a girl and a boy begin an epic and dangerous journey of discovery . . . Lileth Shadow, princess of darkness, is struggling with her growing powers. Castle Gloom is filling with ghosts, zombies roam the country and people throughout Gehenna are disappearing. Then Lily is attacked in her own castle by a mysterious sorcerer known as Dreamweaver and his army of jewel-spiders whose bites send victims to sleep. Thorn, and his giant bat Hades, must save Lily from the realm of sleep and help her overcome the evil Dreamweaver in order for her to reclaim her kingdom. (Publisher's blurb)
I wish this series had been around when I was a child. It has all the horror, humour and fantasy that I ever could have wanted. I loved Shadow Magic, the first book in the series, and if anything I enjoyed this one more.
Sometimes, I have a problem with sequels. I like being introduced to new worlds and am disappointed if there are no new ideas or conflicts. This book explores the world's mythology in more depth and creates new elements. The Gothic feel of the first book really hooked me into this series and I enjoyed how this book was even more inventive with the horror. I found it genuinely scary and disturbing in places, but no so much that I'd worry about a child reading it.
The characters are another part of this series that I really enjoy. Lily is an excellent hero, who revels in the darkness that she has inherited and isn't always virtuous in how she handles it. Her friendship with Thorn is great and I find the chemistry between them really entertaining. The secondary characters are also very strong. In what other series would my favourite character be a troll called Dott?
If I had to say one thing I wasn't keen on, it's the idea that women are forbidden to use magic. I understand that this was included to provide additional conflict, which it did successfully, but this is a fantasy trope I'm not a big fan of. I think it was Samantha Shannon who said that if you're creating your own fantasy world, there's no reason why men and women can't be equals.
A real strength of this book was the plotting. The compelling mystery and unexpected events kept my interest in a way that will appeal to adults and children. There was something very fresh and original about the plot that made it very hard to predict!
This has become one of my favourite middle grade series and I can't wait for the next instalment. Dream Magic comes out today, so if you like what you've read you can buy it now!