The penultimate episode in this well-crafted series pits apprentice wizard Septimus and allies against a relentless tide of Things bent on overwhelming the Magyk that protects the town of Castle and establishing a penumbral Darke Domaine.
Their 14th birthdays become more battles for survival than celebrations for Sep and Princess Jenna when she is captured by the powerful Port Witch Coven. His planned visit to the deadly subterranean Darke Halls takes on special urgency after the Darke finds an opening in the palace and begins pouring out in a deadly tide through the streets. As usual, not only is the cast, particularly the large and tumultuous Heap family, sharply drawn both in the tale and in Zug's finely detailed character studies at the chapter heads, but the danger and the spellcasting alike seem vividly real and credible. Lightening the load with humorous byplay and tucking in plenty of ghosts, strong-willed characters, deft literary references—a character named Bertie Bott, a house on There And Back Again Row—and a particularly exciting dragon battle, Sage expertly weaves multiple new and continuing plotlines together. An appendix ties up what loose ends it can while leaving the door open for the conclusion.
A memorable, edge-of-the-seat escapade that will enthrall confirmed fans and newbies alike. (Fantasy. 10-12)