This is the third book in the Town of Superstition series and I believe it’s best read in order. For people who may have read the second book a while back, the first few pages here sum up the previous books’ plot action very well, which I appreciated.
For people new to the stories, it’s a YA urban fantasy set in the mountainous Northeast region of the U.S. Thaddeus Cane is a sixteen-year-old boy who’s never known his mother, Claire, and only recently learned that his parents were wizards. His father hid their history as he moved them from place to place, because they were on the run from Isadora, an evil wizard who cursed Thaddeus’ mother shortly after he was born. Thaddeus is on a quest to find Claire—a newly awakened dragon—with his father, Nathan, his garden gnome boyfriend, Teofil, Teofil’s mother and sister, and an elf. They arrive in the creepy, dying town of Iron Gulch, battered and virtually penniless after a perilous crossing of the Lost Forest. Iron Gulch sits at the base of Wraith Mountain, the likely hiding place for the dragon. Thing is, Isadora’s also on the hunt to find Claire—and force her into servitude as an attack dragon.
What few residents of Iron Gulch remain are friendly enough, but it’s clear the town’s in trouble. Nathan bargains for the motley crew to bunk at a B&B in exchange for some home repairs for the owner. While there, Nathan takes a job to earn money for supplies so they can ascend Wraith Mountain and search the many caves for Claire. The days trudge on and Thad and the party learn the terrible fate of most of Iron Gulch: dark creatures have infiltrated this sleepy little town and feasted on the inhabitants. It’s rather gruesome, in fact. Aided by some old friends in book one, Thad and his friends take to battle to save the few humans who still live in Iron Gulch, and this brings Thad in direct conflict with Isadora and her tortured dragon—his mother.
As far as an adventure is concerned, this one is a bit slow developing. I wondered why these folks couldn’t make any surveys of the mountain—at all—until pretty late in the book. Meanwhile, they’re painting houses and building gardens. That was a problem, for me, as a reader. Though, I will say that I really appreciated the many spots of foreshadowing and careful plotting. I didn’t feel as if anything came out of nowhere, but I wish the pace was a bit faster. There was a point where I despaired of ever getting to the battle with Isadora and rescuing Claire, but we did. The revelations of Thad’s parents’ shady background was pretty startling, and I liked that we had that little twist. It gets nasty, from a gore standpoint, but the heroes win the day, even if not all of them survive to celebrate.
While this book wraps up the series with a neat little bow, I can see that more adventures could be built from this excellent urban fantasy world. Thad’s only coming into his magic, he has a mother to get to know, and junior year of high school on the horizon. Also, his relationship with Teofil is tender and new. Do not expect more than kisses between these guys—it’s a YA book, yo—but their emotional connection is strong. That said, bad guys remain on the loose, and magical creatures have a whole new mundane world to explore. So, more books may come, and I’d read on.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.