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Children's LiteratureIn an obvious nod to Tolkien, Christopher Pike presents the story of Ali Warner, a teenager who discovers that the weight of several worlds rests squarely on her shoulders. In Alosha, the first book of this trilogy, Ali finds that she is not only a precocious teen, but also the Queen of the Fairies in an alternate realm accessed atop a local mountain. She manages to save Earth from an invading "elemental" army from this alternate realm in the first book, but, as in all second books, much remains a mystery, including the whereabouts of her mother and the identity of an evil force known only as the Shaktra. This second book follows Ali as she leads a motley crew of characters—including a leprechaun, a troll, a dragon, and an African boy named Ra—into the elemental world to find her mother. It also follows two of Ali's human friends, Steve and Cindy, as they investigate some disturbing e-mails sent by Ali's mortal enemy, Karl Tanner. What they find could ultimately save Ali—or destroy her. Without getting into the plot twists, suffice it to say that this little trilogy has an epic scope and Pike's storytelling is refreshing, fun, and slightly familiar as it draws on the adventure fantasy popularized by Tolkien. Ali and her human counterparts are flawed and interesting, and the other characters are well drawn and charismatic. I especially enjoyed Farble the troll and Paddy the leprechaun, who are both funny and loyal to the point of annoyance. Like all second books, the story resolves very little, which conveniently leaves the reader begging for more. This is a keeper for a number of reasons, but primarily because it begs young readers to employ their imaginations in avery real way. 2005, Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, Ages 12 up.