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The sequel to Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing is even bigger and more exciting than its predecessor. It picks up pretty much where Silverwing left off. Shade, the runty silverwing bat, has developed some unusual but useful skills in using sonar to draw pictures in the minds of bats and owls. In the first book these skills only went as far as reading a mental map that his mother sang to him, and occasionally decoying a threatening owl or cannibal bat with a false echo. In this book his powers develop still further to creating elaborate illusions, a sonic cloak of invisibility, and even moving solid objects physically with the force of sound. I’m not talking about just making leaves shiver. I’m talking about picking locks and lifting heavy objects!
These skills come in handy as he sets off on a quest to find his long-lost father, Cassiel, who was banded by the humans and later disappeared while apparently trying to find out something about humans. There’s a lot more bat mythology in this book, continuing from Silverwing, as the good and evil bat gods (Nocturna vs. Cama Zotz) duke it out through their champions, young Shade and the still-breathing cannibal king, Goth, respectively.
There’s also a love triangle between Shade, Marina, and a strapping young silverwing named Chinook, who touchingly goes from being a swaggering bully who likes nothing more than pushing Shade around, to being a devoted and trusting follower of his hero Shade. Old characters return–Frieda the bat elder, Ariel (Shade’s mother), Romulus the webbed rat (who is now king of the northern rats), even from a distance the albino seer-bat, Zephyr. New characters abound–the twisted vampire-bat high priest of the Aztec bat god, the Mexican rat General, the young owl Orestes, and a number of new and interesting bat characters.
And humans come in for a drubbing in this story, in which the threat of total war between owls and bats comes to a head just as humans are using both owls and bats as living bombs in a horrible war. But the real threat is Cama Zotz, who through Goth plans to destroy the sun forever and plunge the whole world into an eternal “night of the living dead.”
In all this peril, what can a little bat do–especially when he’s questioning his own beliefs and bucking the opinion of everyone around him? There are exciting and perilous journeys, bizarre and interesting scenery, awful creatures (the giant insect that tries to eat Shade at one point, still makes my flesh crawl to think of it), feats of daring and friendship and interspecies understanding, moments of pure horror and gripping suspense, and of course, humor, charm, and romance too.