SALT LAKE CITY–Obert Skye introduced 14-year-old Leven Thumps, who discovers that he is an “offing” from the magical land of Foo, in the first book of this series last year. In that adventure, Thumps meets up with the Foo ruler Geth, now reduced to a toothpick shape; sycophant Clover, a furry creature assigned to guide him; and 13-year-old Winter Frore, another ex-Foo resident.
They become embroiled in the struggle to save Reality and preserve Foo as a land of dreams, they end up destroying the evil dream-master Sabine and the hidden gateway, and they land on its other side in the realm of Foo, where things are still much in turmoil.
This book moves the story along, as Leven and Winter try to get Geth to the turrets of fire, where he can be restored from toothpickhood to his rightful existence. But to do that, they must survive the Swollen Forest.
The story here picks up where the last book left off. Unless you have recently read volume one, you might find yourself frequently going to the Who’s Who and glossary section in the back, until you get the various creatures sorted out. A bit more recap might be nice, as would a bit more on the big-picture conflict.
But Foo is certainly a clever and imaginative universe, a place where Lore Coils pass back and forth to distribute news, dreams take on extraordinary shapes, bridges must be sincerely praised, and one must beware of the bright orange hair of rovens.
The characters get separated in the first part of the story, so it becomes fragmented as each gets involved in separate, life- threatening adventures. Plus, events are still going on in Reality and new characters enter the story, so those threads must be woven in. While all this adds to the breadth of the tale, at times it becomes a little disjointed and choppy.
But a sense of non-resolution is to be expected in the middle books of a series. This one does make you want to go on to see what happens next, so it succeeds on that level very well.
Skye is adept at the clever description and turn of phrase that makes for fun reading. For example: Amelia (Leven’s Grandmother) has “old bones whined like the ancient hinges on a heavy door.” And as she is encased in gunt, “it looked as if she were encased in glass – – a wrinkly sleeping beauty that only a blind and desperate prince would kiss.”
Dennis, a sub-average man in Reality who gets drawn into the story has “a big white head. His light blond hair was thin and almost the same color as his skull.” At one point “the waitress looked at him as if he were the sole reason she would never date again.”
And there are nice messages about persevering against the odds, believing in dreams and the importance of hope. Leven shows some growth and development, even though he knows few of the answers, and it’s easy to empathize with his wondering what it is he’s got himself into.
While you’re waiting for the final Harry Potter, you could do a lot worse than to return to Foo.
Copyright Deseret News Publishing Company Oct 15, 2006