Ariel has been plagued by the moon speaking to her. She initially thought she was going crazy, but as the voices in her head have become more insistent, she has realized that she needs to heed what the moon — and her feet — are saying: that she needs to go, somehow, and find the sender of the telling darts that were the starting point of her first journey. So, she and Scarl — her father figure, friend and protector — head south, with only Ariel’s instincts and a vague map/calendar to guide them, not knowing what they’ll find.
Like predecessor The Farwalker’s Quest, much of the joy in this book is in the world that Joni Sensel has created. Going south in the novel gives Sensel a reason to introduce us to more of this world, including a swamp village, Skunk, where Ariel finds friends, traveling companions, and even a first love. They discover more remnants of the world before the Blind War and find that perhaps not everyone has completely forgotten the old ways. In a very interesting use of fantasy conventions, they do find the answers to the questions that led them on this journey.
Sensel is not only a gifted world builder, but she has a knack for involving the reader in her world, for making us care about the characters and the situations. She is also a master at keeping us — or at least me — as readers engaged. It’s a lyrical book, but it’s never slow, and it’s full of enough twists and turns to keep me guessing as to how it will all turn out. My only quibble is with the ending — it seemed a little too… convenient. Pat. Yet also confusing. I knew what was going on, but I had to read it through twice to fully “get” it.
Still, that’s a small quibble, and it doesn’t ruin the book at all. If you haven’t experienced the world that Sensel has built, do. It’s thoroughly captivating.