By: Theresa Nellis
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: May 7, 2022
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: June 3, 2022
Mystery, suspense, and lots of magical elements are waiting for readers who are ready to dive into book 2 in the Keeper of the Mirror series, The Portly Lady.
In book 1 of this young adult fantasy series, The Book of Peter, readers were introduced to Peter, a teen who, honestly, didn’t have many redeeming characteristics. To make matters worse, through some fantastical events, Peter meets an old man, Bael, who encourages the teen’s bad behavior. Evil is afoot, and while Peter may think he knows what’s going on, he has a rude awakening coming in book 2 in the series.
In the early pages of The Portly Lady, we meet up with Zack, one of the boys from the BARF (Peter’s name for the Amsterdam Regional Foster Home) who we met in the first book. We also get reacquainted with Sully, a dog everyone loves (well, everyone who isn’t evil!), who was once Peter’s best, and only friend. Now, however, Sully is a loyal sidekick for Zack. We quickly meet the Portly Lady (the foster home’s director), who is disparaging poor Zack, and calling Sully a mutt. She also tells Zack that she is Bael’s mother. Could that be true? That would make her Peter’s grandmother...Zack isn’t sure what to think of this new information.
Meanwhile, Peter sneaks into Kate and Tom Powell’s home. Kate and Tom were once Peter’s foster parents, but now, well, things aren’t so cozy between the three of them. Peter is creeping around the house, searching for the Amulet of Ivae, a charm with incredible power, power to travel between worlds, and perhaps power to free Bael from his prison…
As the story progresses, Zack begins to form a close relationship with Kate and Tom (and Sully!) while Peter continues to search for a way to free his father from a mystical prison. But readers will learn (no spoilers here!) that Peter should perhaps let his father live out his cruel, evil life in his cave prison given what Kate tells Zack about Bael’s plans for his son…
I wasn’t sure what to expect when given The Portly Lady to review, particularly because I hadn’t read the first book in the series. There is a prologue that gives some interesting background on the mystical world of Duendere as well as the different groups of elves – Luxen and Nullar – and some background on the elven history and what caused a “great divide” between the two groups. Then it’s on to the action…
It did take me a few chapters to get into the story, but that’s because I hadn’t read the first book and was figuring things (and storylines) out. Once I had all the characters settled, however, I was quickly drawn into the story. I would suggest starting with book 1 so you don’t miss out on any of the relationships and twisty plotlines. The Portly Lady isn’t a “classic” tale of good vs. evil simply because the tale is so unique – there’s nothing ordinary about it. The characters are well developed and it’s a credit to the author when a reader loves, and hates, a character at the same time. You’ll find yourself rooting for Zack and Sully, hating Bael, feeling sorry for Huxley (the other misfit from BARF that Bael convinced to leave the foster care system), as well as despising Peter but then wishing he would come around to the side of good. There are plenty of twists and turns in the tale that will keep the reader guessing until the very end. There are so many things happening in The Portly Lady that if I mentioned even half of them, this review would be much too long. Suffice it to say, if you love fantasy series, check out the Keeper of the Mirror series and find out if good, or evil, wins...
Quill says: Power struggles, family connections to both good and evil, lots of mystical elements, and plenty of action and intrigue combine to make Keeper of the Mirror: The Portly Lady, an excellent continuation to this popular young adult fantasy series.
For more information on Keeper of the Mirror: The Portly Lady: Keeper of the Mirror: Dark Magical Fantasy Series 2, please visit the author's website at: theresanellis.com/