This book is a very welcome return to Arranmore after the events of The Storm Keeper’s Island, and one I have been eagerly anticipating for quite some time. It certainly didn’t disappoint! It is an action-packed read: tense, chilling and emotional with some incredible revelations which readers should discover for themselves. Trust me, they will be worth the wait!
The new Storm-Keeper of Arranmore, Fionn Boyle’s dreams are being haunted by the sorceress Morrigan who is intent on overthrowing the Island using her truly frightening followers, the Soulstalkers. As Morrigan’s feared return draws ever closer, more and more Soulstalkers arrive to do her bidding. The portrayal of the Soulstalkers is masterful from their insidious arrival to their palpable terrorising of the Islanders.
The tide of time is against the Islanders as they only have until the Winter Solstice, in three days, to stop the Soulstalkers from raising their leader. Tension builds inexorably as time passes and more and more of Morrigan’s followers arrive on Arranmore. Fionn knows there is only one way to stop them … summon the army of merrows using the Tide Summoner, but it hasn’t been seen for many years. Fionn intends to find it … but have the Islanders lost faith in him, or are they trying to support and help him in his battle?
There is no weakness in knowing when to ask for help.
The use of candles, which harbour memories, as conduits of magic is ingenious. It allows the Islanders to come together to defend themselves whilst their Storm Keeper is fighting his own battle with his magic. Despite struggling to ignite his magic, which he can feel burning inside, Fionn takes his responsibility as Storm Keeper and protector of the Island seriously. Although he is embroiled in confusion and self-doubt, he shows incredible bravery and fortitude, especially as he is fighting against some of the other Islanders as well as Morrigan’s bound followers. When an ultimatum is given to the Islanders by an unwelcome arrival, will they all stand behind their Storm Keeper, or will he be betrayed?
The relationships between the characters are incredibly heartfelt and authentic. Fionn clearly has a wonderful affinity with his Grandfather and their relationship is full of trust, humour and respect. There are heart-breaking moments as Grandad’s memories fade and sacrifices are made, yet what shines through is their enduring love for each other. Whilst Fionn has spates with his sister, Tara, they are there for each other when needed as are his friends Shelby and Sam.
Only I’m allowed to be mean to you.
I really admired Tara’s strength and her willingness to take risks to use the candle magic to stave off the Soulstalkers and help her brother. Fionn’s best friends, Sam and Shelby, are willing participants in his desperate search for the elusive Tide Summoner. All three friends show an incredible amount of courage as they travel through time to retrieve it, but will they be successful? Although hopes are raised, and dashed, the power of these friendships keep the children from giving up when all seems lost …
I loved the fact that Fionn was not a ‘perfect’ hero; his imperfections make him such a likeable character. He struggles with his magic from the beginning and suffers from very human emotions of guilt, fear, regret and self-doubt, yet through all this negativity towards himself, he has a deep-rooted inner resilience and drive to protect the Islanders. He does not shy away from his destiny, even when his destiny seems to be leading him towards a terrible fate.
The ending of this second book is terrifically thrilling, and left me awaiting the final outcome of the battle with Morrigan and her Soulstalkers with bated breath … and it was all I wanted it to be, and so much more. The ending sets the next book up so beautifully that I am already desperate to read it. Really desperate!