Mickey Zucker Reichert is a pediatrician, parent, animal lover, and author of twenty-some novels including Renshai, Nightfall, Barakhai, and Bifrost series, one illustrated novella, and fifty-plus short stories. She can be found at mickeyzuckerreichert.com.
This sequel to The Beasts of Barakhai (2001) from fantasy maven Reichert plays a distinctly pedestrian variation on the theme of a human saving Faerie. In this case, Faerie is the land of Barakhai, where thanks to "the Curse" everyone spends half of each day as a human and the other half as some kind of animal. Biology student Benton Collins allied himself with the renegades seeking to lift the curse in the previous volume. Now the dissidents want him again, since he's the one person who can safely seek the Lost Dragons, the last surviving descendants of the mighty Prinivere and the key to doing anything about the curse. To do this, he needs to deal again with his old lover, Carrie Quinton (understandably out for his blood in revenge for her disfigurement); not lose his temper with Zylas, the leader of the renegades (especially when Zylas is in a white rat's form); and try not to fall in love with Falima (a loyal companion and a fine-looking woman when she isn't a mare). Despite the brisk action, scenes are left undeveloped, the conflicts lack intensity and emotional impact and the characterization borders on the bland. The earlier novel did a good deal (some of it quite witty) with the animal-human changes, but this effort doesn't really do justice to what is potentially the strongest element in the saga. More than a few readers, especially those who appreciate the author's fine folkloric and mythic fantasy, are likely to feel disappointed. (Aug. 6) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.