Just like the first book in the series by Jessica Cluess, “A Shadow Bright and Burning,” the second book, “A Poison Dark and Drowning” grabs the reader from the first few pages. As in the first book, this middle book in the trilogy continues to showcase Cluess’s ability to combine just enough description, just the right dialogue, and plenty of plot to keep the pages turning quickly as the reader anxiously races to the end.
In many series, there are so many characters that when the second book is released a year later, readers must reread the first book to familiarize themselves again with who everyone is. That’s not the case here. The various sorcerers, the friends, the Ancient monsters — they all are mentioned with enough detail to enable readers to jump right into this book.
The world of Henrietta Howel is a frightening one. Ancient monsters have been unleashed on England and their only hope is that the sorcerers will be able to banish them. It’s been over a decade, and they haven’t managed it yet. Henrietta and Rook, her best friend and rather unlikely love interest, are in London while Henrietta battles the monsters with the other sorcerers.
This second book in the trilogy moves amazingly quickly. In the course of one book, (spoiler alert) a new “chosen one” appears, Henrietta learns more about her family — much more — and the history behind the emergence of the Ancients becomes clear.
There’s magic everywhere, lots of action and gore, plenty of passion, and a touch of humor. It’s a great sequel to the first book and will leave readers anxiously waiting for the third book. There are still questions to be answered (like what is going on with Blackwood’s mother, who isn’t seen throughout the whole book). How will Henrietta defeat the Ancients, and who will help her? With whom will Henrietta end up by the end of the trilogy? So many boys to choose from. Lots of questions needing answers, and readers are waiting.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Random House Children’s Books, for review purposes.