CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 21. . . .February 6, 2015
Second Kiss. (Spell Crossed, Bk. Two).
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2015.
326 pp., trade pbk., EPUB & pdf, $12.99 (pbk.), $8.99 (EPUB), $12.95 (pdf).
ISBN 978-1-4597-3020-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4597-3022-9 (EPUB), ISBN 978-1-4597-3021-2 (pdf).
Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.
Review by Andrew Laudicina.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Lighthammer nodded inscrutably. “It is easy to be his enemy, but can you put that aside and trust him now and be his ally?”
Xemion hesitated only slightly. “I know that I can be trusted.”
“I see. Do you feel you’ve got the sword held right?”
Xemion turned the haft of the sword so that his fingers were clearly visible and a twinge ran right up his arm where Montither had yanked it.
“That is very good,” said Lighthammer.
“Do you think you are ready?”
Xemion nodded again. But he had a strange feeling as Lighthammer’s blade zeroed in on his. Lighthammer struck quick as lightning right at the crook where the hilt met the blade. He hit hard and the sword was knocked down so forcibly to the ground it bounced halfway back up again. Xemion let out a cry, shaking his hand, his shoulder in agony. People behind laughed. Loudest among them was Tharfen.
“No!” Xemion shouted. “No.”
“Yes,” said Lighthammer.
“No. I must have another chance.”
“It would be no different.”
“I must have another chance.”
“One more word and you will be exiled from these precincts. Do you hear me?”
Xemion tried to be silent. But the first one you chose, she is my—”
Lighthammer cut him off with an angry bellow. “The one thing you need to do right now is to obey my orders, and your vow. Do you understand?”
...Xemion said nothing.
In the sequel to The Paper Sword, Xemion, having reached the ancient city of Ulde and joined the resistance against the Pathans, becomes separated from Saheli, the young woman he believes to be his warrior beloved. Attempts to reunite with his friend are complicated when Saheli is accepted into an advance guard (and Xemion is not), requiring her to train in seclusion outside the city. Heartbroken, Xemion passes the time until her return working diligently as a scribe, that is, until a rival reveals his intent to bring great harm against Saheli in an upcoming sword tournament. Determined not to see her injured—or worse— Xemion sets forth a plan to find and rescue her. A series of unexpected and magical events, however, conspire to thwart Xemion’s efforts, jeopardizing not only his well-being, but the very success of the entire rebellion.
Unfettered by world building already dutifully covered in the series opener, Second Kiss moves quickly, incorporating heavy doses of action (especially towards the end) familiar to the genre. The scale of the swordplay and battles featured will also impress, although there perhaps exists too many instances of characters committing the ultimate sacrifice only to be revived later on or revealed never to have died in the first place.
Multiple plot lines and character introductions (which are not always clearly explained or fully realized) round out the story which, for all intents and purposes, revolves around a single thread: Xemion’s pursuit of Saheli. That Saheli has lost all memory of Xemion, the consequence of a cross spell— and is later repulsed by his use of spellbinding, adds a welcome dimension to what would otherwise have been an overly simplistic tale of young love and war. Newcomers, however, will be lost not having read The Paper Sword, and male fans (in particular) of the first book will perhaps need to overcome any preconceived notions that the book’s title may elicit. In either case, all who follow along will be left eagerly anticipating the third and final volume.
Andrew Laudicina, a MLIS graduate from the University of Western Ontario in London, currently resides in Windsor, ON.
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