3 out of 4 stars
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Makenna, her fairy guardians, and Fluffy the worm are back in the second installment of Michael Bialys’s fun and action-packed Chronicles of the Virago.
In The Chronicles of the Virago II: The Apprentus, Makenna Gold believes she’s all set and on her way to defending her twin siblings from any threat that will keep them from enlightening the world. When her school wins an award and Makenna is chosen to spend a three-week educational trip in China, her whole family goes, believing it will be an amazing adventure.
Little does Makenna realize all the dangers that await her there. Maldavo Seaton (bad guy extraordinaire) has an office for his company in China. Makenna’s father has been offered an opportunity to work there over the three weeks, providing the perfect opportunity to slip the twins into Seaton’s clutches. Meanwhile Ms. Creante, the demon Makenna injured in the first book, is out for revenge. With so many threats closing in, Makenna must protect her siblings, while balancing school obligations and air-combat training with Peter Pan himself.
I reviewed the first book in this series a few months ago. When I saw the second one was up for review, I snagged it. The first book won my heart, and I was beyond excited to see what adventures Makenna and her friends got into next. All the characters I loved from the first book are back, and a host of new ones are introduced. One of my favorites is the Grimm Reaper, who goes by Shecky. Far from the creepy guy you’d expect, Shecky is all kinds of adorable, wanting only to be a standup comedian and noting things he could post to his Deathchat account.
In terms of the adventure and Makenna, Bialys takes the second book from where the first left off and so much farther. After her success in the first book, Makenna is feeling pretty confident and a little smug, as any teen who’s discovered they’re good at doing incredible stuff might be. She gets a tough dose of reality, though, when she starts training with Peter. Suddenly, Makenna realizes she doesn’t know everything and that she could benefit from the knowledge of others. This point is shown beautifully throughout the book. It was amazing to see Makenna grow and mature. Her immediate frustration at Peter knowing things she doesn’t turns to a grudging respect and then a proud partnership. On her last day of training, Makenna gives Peter a hug when he cries about his past, realizing he never had a mother to offer him such comfort. This was a huge moment in her character’s development. Here the most, Makenna becomes an incredible role model for young readers, showing them that everyone has points of weakness. Some might be less visible than others, but when we hit on someone’s nerve, the thing to do is to be compassionate and understanding. I’m not embarrassed to say I was sniffling a little.
I really have nothing negative to say about this book. The only thing I would have liked to see more of was China. The bulk of the story takes place there, but except for a few moments when Makenna’s class is on an educational field trip, I didn’t get a sense for the setting. This didn’t damper my reading experience at all. From page one, I was hooked, and the ending left room for a sequel full of more growth and adventures.
Due to an abundance of errors throughout, I am forced to rate The Chronicles of the Virago II: The Apprentus 3 out of 4 stars. There are many missing words and punctuation marks, but this is literally the only thing keeping me from giving this book full marks. This sequel met and surpassed the first book in my opinion, and I never thought to rate it less than 3. Makenna is a true hero, inside and out. Early middle grade readers would enjoy this book, as might younger kids with an adult to read with them. As an adult who positively loved this, I do think this is a book for all ages of fantasy lovers. If you haven’t already, give this series a chance. Like Makenna’s last name, it’s gold.
The Chronicles of the Virago: Book II THE APPRENTUS
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