Published by Harper Collins
When we last left the archipelago known as The Abarat, Candy Quackenbush had just encountered three women that told her she was a much greater entity, and her purpose was far more divine than she had any idea of. She left the island of The 25th Hour under some duress, along with millions of questions floating around in her head.
When we catch up with Candy at the beginning, she’s traveling with Malingo, the ex-slave of one Kasper Wolfswinkel, who is now her most trusted ally. They’ve been crossing from island to island with the dreaded Criss-Cross Man, one of the many servants of Christopher Carrion, hot on their heels. After many botched attempts to capture young Candy, her and Malingo are separated on an island that is a virtual non-stop carnival. They’re forced to go their separate ways, but Malingo is soon handed captaining duties on a ship by Diamanda, one of three mysterious women of The 25th Hour, and is charged with finding Candy before Carrion can get his hands on her.
To go into too much detail as to the many ups and downs of the second book of the Abarat would be to ruin the adventure for most readers, so I’m remiss to get into the many intricacies of the plot that fills Days of Magic, Nights of War. Barker has managed to only improve upon the already wonderfully mysterious world of The Abarat, with new characters introduced and old ones coming back into the fold when you would least expect. And, I might add, a significantly higher body count than the first book.
It’s pretty amazing, once you finish the book, to realize just how many of the characters that made up the first entry are done away with. In an interview with the fantastic Clive site Revelations, Barker had this to say about it; “I’ve got to clear the table a little bit because I know there’s a bunch of other people coming in here – waiting in the wings saying, ‘Get off the fucking stage!’ to the people who are already there.” You’ll get an idea how true that is as the body count rises throughout.
One of the more frustrating things about on-going epics like this one is that sometimes questions are left up in the air for many books at a time. What is the truth about Candy? What is the Lord of Midnight’s true plan? What happened to Candy’s mother on the night she gave birth? All these questions were asked and left unanswered in the first book, but this one brings about answers to most of them, while at the same time creating more, much larger questions in the process. In Abarat I got the feeling of a beginning, when the conclusion came there was too much up in the air for me to be able to get a feel for what the rest of the books might be like. Days of Magic… fleshes out the story so much that you can see where Barker may be taking us with the overall tale, and it’s much bigger than I’m sure most of us imagined. It’s certainly much larger than just The Abarat.
We should talk a minute about the artwork, since that is a large portion of the book’s draw. It’s amazing, as usual, and it’s cool to read about strange creatures and things, then turn the page and actually see what they look like…or at least the authors’ interpretation of them. It does take away somewhat from the joy of seeing the images the way you think they would look, but Clive’s skills manage to outweigh that feeling and give the book a much more realized appeal to it. Barker’s artistic vision is complete with Abarat and I got the feeling there was not one piece of art or writing in this book that he was not 100% proud of.
Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War is the entry that will hook readers from the first page, much more than the first book did. It’s going to feel like a much longer wait for the third book now that so many truths have been revealed, so many decisions made, and so many actions taken that cannot be undone. Do yourself a favor and read the first one if you have not, then move on to this book right away. You’ll thank me later.
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