Sarah Zettel has topped herself here, shifting the action from the poverty-stricken Dust Bowl to the glittering lights of Hollywood. The thrill of Callie’s predicament is liberally seasoned with meeting the historic figure of Paul Robeson, a character of such dignity, grace and strength that his presence immeasurably enhances the book. Callie also finds herself faced with an improbable enemy in the form of a Shirley-Temple wannabe. Ms. Zettel manages to make the latter credibly dangerous instead of the laughable figure she might have been, a tribute to her tremendous gifts of characterization.
In this novel the stakes are considerably higher. The terror and menace ratchet higher with every page, leaving the reader gripped with stomach-churning tension. Callie remains redoubtable figure. She grows into maturity and her power with every chapter, acting with the cunning of a gambler, the kindness inherent in her nature and the desperation of a teenager wishing to rescue her loved ones. Her efforts to save her family, protect innocents and avoid conflict don’t always work but her valiant attempts are wonderful to read.
The novel ends with the threat of warfare, so exciting events are in the offing. This series proves that the fantasy genre is an ever-malleable gift in the hands of brilliant authors like Ms. Zettel.
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