My rating: ★★★☆☆
More mediocre fantasy from Stanton. In this one, Ari, Chase, and Lori have to deal with the consequences of taking the Scepter through the Gap. Because apparently that’s a Thing That is Very Bad and upsets the balance of magic in the universe. And for some reason it means that Entia gets to issue Ari two challenges.
This is actually the last book in the series that I remember; as a matter of fact, I thought this was the last or second-to-last book in the series. I suppose that really goes to show how much I didn’t enjoy the later books, since I’ve completely forgotten them over the past decade; though I won’t be surprised if the memories come back to me as I read further.
Anyway, as I said, this is mediocre fantasy. So far the series is entirely episodic with no obvious plot goal. I’m halfway through the series, and I still have no idea what exactly Ari’s goals are. Obviously, she’s supposed to be overthrowing the Evil Sorcerer Entia, but there hasn’t been a single hint toward how exactly she’s supposed to be doing that. The series at the moment seems to be running on a sense of making things up as it goes along; each new book introduces some new, relatively unexplained thing for Ari to fetch, and it feels like the fantasy form of busy work. I’m really hoping a proper goal shows up within the next book or so, or else this is going to be incredibly boring as we get toward the end.
I can’t say I recommend this, but nor do I strongly discourage anyone to read it. Young readers with a love of unicorns will likely enjoy it, and it’s a good way to introduce the fantasy genre to children unfamiliar with it. Anyone over the age of ten or so, however, will likely find it juvenile and uninteresting.