The second volume in the Warrior Stone series sees young heroine Claire Stone firmly established as a Warrior in Underland, a strange, steampunky alternate London that forms the only line of defence between the Real, the human world, and the incursions of the soul-stealing, shapeshifting Morphs from the mysterious “Below”. She has formed a tentative friendship with Grenlik engineer Tolks, who has in his possession a mysterious cube which he is trying to track down the missing elements of to make it work, while Claire is trying to master her growing magical abilities. But there are sinister elements at work, in a conspiracy that extends to the very top of Underland and beyond, and all too soon Claire finds herself isolated and in deeper trouble than she ever has been in her life.
We learn more about Claire this time round, wincing along at her fumbling teenage relationships, her struggles at school, though this second volume is rooted more firmly in the Underland, and when the action swings back to the Real it takes a very dark turn indeed, and Claire is forced to make some harsh choices.
It’s quite definitely the middle volume in a trilogy, and I’d certainly recommend reading part one first. The business with the mysterious cube is hinted at, but left firmly unresolved as Claire battles her more immediate problems – a Morph incursion that has taken her parents, the loss of her friend Evie, and the knowledge that there will come a point, very soon, where she will forget Underland in much the same way Susan forgets Narnia. And the book ends on a cliffhanger that will have dramatic, and painful, consequences for Claire, that leaves the reader wondering how on earth this can possibly be resolved.
A recommended read – sassy and smart steampunk YA that touches on real-world problems in an unreal Underland.