‘The Magician’s Key: Book Two in The Secrets of the Pied Piper’ by Matthew Cody

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Matthew Cody’s second book in the “Secrets of the Pied Piper” series, “The Magician’s Key,” is brilliant. This second-in-a-trilogy novel manages to be even more action-filled than the first book.

This one takes place not only in the small town of Hamelin, where the Pied Piper led 130 children into a mountain eight hundred years ago, but also on Summer Isle, where the children still live and where they haven’t aged at all. The isle is magical, warm all year round, but there danger lurks there. Rats the size of humans inhabit the isle, as do elves and witches. And the weather is changing, too. There is a dark winter approaching, and the children don’t know how to prepare for it.

In this middle book, both of Cody’s main characters, Max and Carter, develop as complex characters. But it’s Carter, the “cripple” with the clubfoot, whom the reader really sees grow and mature. Carter is the one considered the last link to the boy who was left behind by the Pied Piper because he limped and couldn’t keep up. Cody adeptly juggles the settings of the story, changing from the “real” world where Max ended up after going through the Piper’s magic mirror and Summer Isle, where Carter remained after breaking the magic mirror.

In this story, Carter finally learns to fight his own battles instead of relying on others to save him. Both Carter and Max face loathsome creatures who are frighteningly evil. Both find allies in unexpected places, as well.

“The Magician’s Key” is filled with magic, hope, and questions about good and evil. It’s about family — Max will do anything to protect her brother and her parents. And it’s a wonderful middle book in this fabulous trilogy which is sure to please fantasy lovers of all ages.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Knopf Books for Young Readers, for review purposes.

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