304 pages / Bloomsbury Children’s Books / Middle Grade, Childrens, Fantasy
The digest: another absolutely phenomenal MG novel from Catherine Doyle. The characters are better developed, the worldbuilding deeper, and the stakes higher. If you enjoy innovative magic systems and kids facing off against a mythologyical Big Bad then you should be reading this series.
I usually copy the blurb from Goodreads right about here, but the one for this book well and truly spoils the first Storm Keeper novel. I’ve copied that info further below. My review for The Storm Keeper’s Island can be found here, and I’d recommend reading that if you are new to the series.
- As I said in my review for the first novel in the series, the worldbuilding is one of the best bits about Doyle’s writing. This time around we see significant development of the magical systems (both with low-level changes and growth as well as wider, as-yet unknown elements) which have a material change on how the story plays out. Who were the Lost Tide Warriors? Spoiler: are they really underwater ferocious beasts?
- The story is engaging and plays off the ending of the first book very well for the most-part. The stakes are raised and there are moments when we don’t know if the good guys will win. Potentially surprisingly for an MG book, the victory of the main characters is by no means guaranteed.
- We see a continuation of real-life themes including loss and legacy – we learnt certain things in the first book that continue to have an everyday impact on the characters now. It is good to see such topics dealt with so well, but don’t for one second think you are out of the woods. Doyle makes such that both the main cast themselves (largely though not exclusively young kids) and we the readers have to embrace numerous periods of upset – and joy.
- As with the first Storm Keeper book, the diversity is not amazing (though another family-based issue about lineage and legacy, breaking free of family hatred is discussed).
- This one felt a little more formulaic than the first in the series, but by no means does this detract from the story.
- There is one particular element from the first novel that I felt was kinda focused on too little (if I was a kid and this revelation happened to me, I wouldn’t be over it in a few months). Bit nit-picky but it is something that I picked up on.
Conclusion: basically, read this novel if you are after an MG novel with a solid group of characters, cool magic system, exploration of Irish mythology, and to have a bit of a cry.
As stated above, the following blurb (copied from Goodreads) spoils the first novel – you have been warned!
“Fionn Boyle has been Storm Keeper of Arranmore for less than six months when thousands of terrifying Soulstalkers arrive on the island. The empty-eyed followers of the dreaded sorceress, Morrigan have come to raise their leader and Fionn is powerless to stop them. The Storm Keeper’s magic has deserted him and with his grandfather’s memory waning, Fionn must rely on his friends Shelby and Sam to help him summon Dagda’s army of merrows.
But nobody else believes the ferocious sea creatures even exist. And how can he prove he’s right without any magic? As Fionn begins his search for the lost army, the other islanders prepare for invasion. The battle to save Arranmore has begun.”