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As he begins his second year at Bloors Academy, Charlie finds himself floundering with confusion like a first-year all over again! One of the reasons is that Manfred Bloor, late head boy, is back as a teaching assistant, and his equally nasty stooge, Asa Pike, has also returned (to repeat a year). Another reason has to do with the delicate balance among the handful of magically endowed students at Bloors, which has begun to tilt toward the Dark Side thanks to a strange, magnetic little boy named Joshua Tilpin.
Then, there is the disappearance of the piano teacher Mr. Pilgrim. (Does anyone else think hes who I think he is?) Plus, Mr. Pilgrim has been replaced by a terribly strange, and strangely terrible, new teacher named Tantalus Ebony. And finally, just when a caring guardian steps forward for little Billy Raven (you remember, the eight-year-old orphan who has been raised almost as a prisoner in Bloors, who can talk to animals, and who is a neutral between the two feuding groups of endowed children), just then, I say, the Bloors pack Billy away with a new set of adoptive parents. And wouldn’t you know it, the de Greys are evil, evil, evil people with the power to make Billy the most miserable little boy in town.
And thats all just the beginning. Theres more – much more: a dangerous shifting of the balance…Charlies friends in more danger than ever…Charlies importance as a keeper of the balance becoming ever clearer…a ghostly warhorse brought back from the dead…a powerful wand stolen, destroyed, and transformed…one of Charlies friends discovering a troubling new talent…an evil spirit bent on vengeance…a bizarre castle with a hideous history…and another crushing setback in Charlies search for his long-lost father… Its hard to believe all this can fit into one book, just over 410 pages, and those printed in an eye-strain-reducing format!
Astounding as Charlies adventures in this book are, they almost seem to work out too easily…ALMOST! After all, someone literally sacrifices their life for someone they care about. And although Billys escape from the de Greys comes early enough to spare us much anxiety (perhaps too much), it isnt an easy escape and neither are the consequences. Plus, the discoveries Charlie and his friends make in this book could generate several more adventures, each of which will, no doubt, be more challenging than the last. So maybe Im just whining because the fun ended too soon, and I dont know when the next book is coming out!