The Drowned Vault (Ashtown Burials, book 2)
By N.D. Wilson
Expected publication September 11, 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
WARNING: There will likely be spoilers for the first book. To read my review of that book, click here.
It's been almost a year since Cyrus and Antigone earned their places at Ashtown, and that year has not been easy on them. After losing the Dragon's Tooth in a battle with Phoenix, let's just say that the Smiths are not the most popular kids in town. And they are about to get a whole lot more unpopular. The transmortals - who are being hunted and killed by Phoenix - descend on Ashtown with a bone to pick. Soon, the Smiths in a situation where the only hope for assistance will come from bringing back a guy even more unpopular than themselves - their ancestor, Captain John Smith.
After reading the first book more than a year ago, I had been eagerly awaiting this title. Wilson got this series off to a great start, leaving readers at a point where they were definitely invested and wanted to know what happened next. The pace only picks up and the action gets more involved and exhilarating in this second entry. More of the complicated history of the Order is revealed, and even greater villains make themselves known. I don't know if it was revealed in the first book (I can't remember, anyway) but I thought it was awesome that Cyrus and Antigone were related to John Smith. I loved finding out the story with him and why the Smiths have been disliked long before Cyrus and Antigone showed up. I loved that we had parallel story lines with various characters throughout the book. And, I'm happy to report that a lot of my issues with the first book seem to resolve themselves in this title. More information is revealed in this book and holding back some relevant information is just part of what makes a series work well. Additionally, I found Cyrus to be better developed and easier to relate to in this book. He is going through a lot and I think some of the struggles with proving himself will be familiar to readers. This book creates an even greater world with ever more excitement and suspense. The characters are all richly developed, but still, in my opinion, this series greatest strength is its world-building and mythology. Any kid looking for an exciting new fantasy series should get started on these.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy provided via Edelweiss.