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Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War

by Clive Barker

School Library Journal: Gr 7-10–In this sequel to Abarat(HarperCollins, 2002), Candy Quackenbush is fighting for her life in the mysterious world of the Abarat. The powers of darkness, Christopher Carrion and his murderous grandmother, Mater Motley, plan to overtake it and make it a world of perpetual midnight. As Candy and her friends rush through various adventures, Carrion's obsession with finding her grows, along with his rage and frustration. He hires the Criss-Cross Man, Otto Houlihan, to hunt Candy down. A group of adventurers, including John Mischief and his brothers, continues to look for dragon-hunting hero Finnegan Hob. Candy learns Abarat's history and begins to understand the role she may play in its future. This second title relies on exposition from the first; readers without that grounding may find themselves lost in Abarat's complications. The threads of the narrative take a long time to weave into a unified story, but it's worth the time it takes. With a large cast, a complicated plot, and such varied geography, Barker keeps readers busy juggling, but all that work pays off as the suspense and tension mount. Candy and her allies are engaging characters, if uncomplicated; Carrion and his grandmother are more mustache-twirling than interesting. The Abaratian world is the jewel of this novel, dense and vividly rendered in both striking description and Barker's vibrant artwork. Fans of the first book, as well as of other robust fantasy titles like Garth Nix's Sabriel (HarperCollins, 1996) and Diana Wynne Jones's Dark Lord of Derkholm (Greenwillow, 1998), will enjoy it.–Sarah Couri, New York Public Library

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