Fans will be delighted to return to Derting’s fantastical and amazing world, filled with spunky, brave and lovable characters. In this second Pledge novel, readers are exposed to more wild lands. The different cultures and new characters are described with vibrant language and image-evoking details — all commented upon by spirited Charlie, of course. However, many of the most beloved characters from the first novel have very small roles here, including Max. The romance is almost nonexistent but, overall, this is an enthralling tale.
Sure, Charlie has rid Ludania of the tyrant queen Sabara and abolished the class system. Yet only Charlie knows the truth: Sabara is not gone, her spirit is still alive within her. Charlie’s also dealing with the growing resistance to her regime. Invited to a leadership summit for female rulers, Charlie takes a harrowing journey. On her way she faces a terrible betrayal, and soon she needs help from the last place she ever expected: the evil soul inside. (MARGARET K. MCELDERRY, Jan., 341 pp., $16.99, ISBN: 9781442445598, HC, 12 & Up)