SNEAK PEEK PREVIEW: Guardian of the Gate is superb sequel

Guardian of the Gate (Prophecy of the Sisters, Book 2) by Michelle Zink; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2010; 340 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The cover art, below, and the publication information is subject to change.  Expected release date: August 1, 2010.

Poor Lia’s idyllic time in Milthorpe Manor, her family’s English retreat, is about to end.  Her time wearing men’s breeches, racing horses with Sonia, and honing her skills as the Angel of Chaos, must come to a rather abrupt end.  In this, the second novel of the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy, Lia faces her own dichotomy (as well as her sister’s).  While struggling against the evil forces to maintain her vow to protect humanity, she also faces more mundane problems.  Like any 16 year old, she has to determine which of her friends might betray her trust; which boyfriend she prefers; and how to make her own way in the world.  And she has to do it all while hunting for the rest of the mysterious manuscript that holds the key to the final confrontation between good and evil, pitting sister against sister.

This sequel flowed seamlessly from the end of the first book.  Zink has refined the narrator’s (Lia’s) voice and I was not distracted by anachronisms as I was in Prophecy of the Sisters. Maybe they are still there; maybe I was just so sucked into this world, into Lia’s story, that I was a more forgiving (unaware?!) reader.  In addition, Zink has fully fleshed out the main characters: Lia, Sonia and Luisa.  Alice’s evil is more developed as her flashes of familial love are all but gone.  Manservant Edmund becomes far more interesting, almost an integral part of the plot, until newcomer Dimitri Markov assumes the role of guardian.  Ooh, Dimitri.  Like so many things in this series, he is an opposite: the opposite of James Douglas.  So aside from the twists and turns the fight between good and evil takes, Lia must also fight her loyalty to James as she finds romance with Dimitri.  Book 3 promises to be very, very entertaining!

Oh yes, teens will eat up part 2 of the trilogy.  But so will adults.  Like Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, there’s something in Zink’s battle that calls to the young adult in all of us.  This will certainly be a cross-generational series.  I expect YALSA to add this to the list of nominees for 2011’s Best Books for Young Adults.

5P     4Q     Grade Level: 8+

Cover Art: The ARC I received had the following cover.  Not at all interesting, even with the repitition of the vine and snake graphic of the first novel (which continues on every page in the ARC of the sequel).  But it is a preview copy, after all, and is subject to change.

And change it did!  A quick visit to the publisher’s teen portal showed the anticipated cover; and it plays well with the paperback cover of the first book.  While I’m not sure I’m crazy about the girls’ faces, I know that using real faces on the cover is far more appealing to the intended audience.  Kudos for a well-designed campaign!  In fact, a trailer for the book was on the splash page of LB-Teens as of July 15, 2010.  Check it out: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/teens_index.aspx.

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

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