Note that this review may contain spoilers.
After reading the first book in this series, how could I not read the second? Not only did I want to know what happened to the characters, but Kaleb Nation is one of my favorites, not just as an author but as a person. And who wouldn't be drawn in by that cover? Still not convinced? Let me tell you a little more...
Exposition: Right away, we are introduced to the Key and Elspeth's desire to find it. As with the first book, the opening leads to plenty of questions. Why does Elspeth want the Key? To what evil means can it be used? Who is this man who seems to know Bran's every move?
Not only is there the mystery of the Key, but there is also the safety deposit box Bran finds with his mother's name on it. The box carries only one clue on how to open it; the two words 'Nigel Ten'.
Rising Action: Bran starts the search for Nigel Ten right away; Astara there to help as always. When they are informed that Nigel Ten is not a person, but is in fact a room at a hotel, they set out to explore right away. There they discover Nim, a fairy, and evidence that someone is definitely watching Bran, possibly the same someone who had given him away to Joris in their previous adventure. Upon his next visit, Bran learns that that man is his own father, a man called T or Thomas. The former book mainly focuses on his mother, putting in place the mind set that makes this twist such a surprise.
On the back cover blurb, we are warned of what is to come next: "When Bran's best friend, Astara, is kidnapped..." Yet somehow, that is not enough preparation for Astara's death. But is it really a death, or just a kidnapping, as the book states? Bran is determined to find out, especially after he discovers the contents of the safety deposit box: a wand (his mother's) and the Specter Key.
After learning the location of the Specters themselves from Adi's brother, Gary, Bran enlists the help of his father. And I can't help but wonder if that's such a good idea.
Climax: Bran quickly reaches the center of the temple that holds the Specters, souls that his own mother stole. He has thrust the Key into the obvious keyhole, when Elspeth shows up, trailed by none other than Thomas. Cornered, Bran throws the Key at the great wall the Specters are held behind, finally releasing them, and with them, Astara.
And, as is want to happen in the middle of fight scenes, many surprises ensue. I will only say that someone totally unexpected shows up to help, someone decides to embrace his parental side if just for a moment, and the Key is destroyed.
Falling Action/Resolution: Bran and Astara come home to a welcoming party, thought it's not for them. And you'll be happy to know that Mr. Rat was released from the Dunce prison and is now cleaning subways.