Categorization: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Magical School
Length: 576 pages
Plans to Continue: Already Have!
I enjoyed this second installment even more than the first. All the world building in the first book really set the stage for characters to be explored in the second. The stakes are even higher now and the cast has grown in size and depth. Every single person feels completely real and individual, which has really impressed me.
Keefe is on the cover of this one, so clearly, Keefe plays an integral part. He annoyed me during the first book and I spent a good bit of time being suspicious of him. He is a prankster and rarely serious, yet he is capable of being relied on. In this second book, his character definitely progresses and you get some more backstory. He grows on you until you find yourself hoping he will show up.
We learn more about the Black Swan. Hooray.
I was not sure how the introduction of Silveny (also on the cover) would affect the story, but I ended up feeling like the alicorn (flying unicorn) really added to the story in a way that only a sparkly mythical horse could. Her connection to Sophie and what she means to the entire Elven world makes her integral to the story, and saves her from feeling like she was just tossed in.
I love the way that the adults in this universe include Sophie and some of the other kids in political affairs and secret missions. The adults either fear or value the unique gifts which Sophie posses, but either way, she is on par with them, rather than ever told: "Stay out of it you're too young". This is one of my most favorite, underused tropes. One which was employed wonderfully in the Harry Potter series.
There is a big emotional and psychological aspect to what Sophie must endure during the course of this book. She must come face to face with the affects of grief, the responsibility of failing a nearly impossible task, and the fact that everyone had believed she was dead. I was completely emotionally invested as well.