Intricate worldbuilding and a diverse cast of characters make this smartly written fantasy a must-read. The Speaker picks up where its predecessor The Reader left off, and follows Sefia and Archer in their daring race to stay alive, complete with swashbuckling pirates and a band of “lost boys” to rival Peter Pan’s. Chee immerses readers in the world she has created; you’ll feel as if you’ve got a sword clenched in your hand and a sense of urgency in your heart. Sacrificial love is woven gently through the pages, amid the complex storylines that merge as various characters’ paths intersect. And for all the secrets that are revealed more questions are raised and more adventure awaits, leaving readers eager for the final volume in this captivating trilogy.
Sefia and Archer aren’t yet safe from the Guard as they race deep into the forest to regroup. When they defeat a band of impressors, the people who cruelly taught Archer how to kill, Archer finds a new sense of purpose. Freeing the children whom the impressors were transporting, Archer and Sefia become the inadvertent leaders of a sort of vigilante group who travel throughout Deliene looking for other kidnappers. But the more groups they defeat, the more Archer seems to be transforming into the destiny he once sought desperately to avoid. Sefia knows the answers that connect Archer, her parents and the current regime are in The Book, but will she discover what she needs before it’s too late? (PUTNAM, Nov., 512 pp., $19.99, 12 & Up)