Reviewed: February 22, 2006
By: Margaret Buffie
Publisher: Kids Can Press
368 pages, $8.95
A few years ago I reviewed a book called
The Watcher by Magaret Buffie, and hazarded a guess that the story,
although satisfying, had enough loose ends to suggest a sequel might be planned.
In one of the rare responses that I sometimes get from writers after I send
out my review copies to their publishers, Buffie wrote to say that I was correct
and the next book would be forthcoming.
It turns out I wasn’t quite right,
and that The Watcher’s Quest, as the story is now known, stretched to a trilogy.
This is the second book in the cycle.
While it’s the second book, it has
the feel of being a first book too. Most of book one took place on Earth,
while Emma learned about her true otherworldly heritage, why she had been
set to watch her family, and what the stakes in the interdimensional game
The Game is played on many dimensional
levels, and is full of plots and counter-plots. The Players, the rulers of
the worlds of the multiverse, do not hesitate to manipulate, coerce and sacrifice
the lives of their subjects in order to win. They are addicted to gaming in
the worst way and the circumstances of Emma’s earthly life were a consequence
Book two takes place just about entirely
in elsewhere, several elsewheres, actually, as Emma searches through a number
of dimensions to find her adoptive mother’s real daughter, Ailla. Summer is
the sister that Emma has always known, but we learned in the first book that
Summer is the equivalent of a fairie changling, switched at birth with Ailla,
the real daugher of Emma’s Earth mother, Leto. As Summer was sickly and ailing
in our world, so Leto is declining on the island world of Argadnel. Emma has
to find Ailla in order to restore Leto’s health and will to live.
To assist her she has Tamhas, the other
watcher from book one. Watchers are natural shape shifters, but for helping
Emma and her family, Tamhas was locked into the form of an owl and deprived
of many of his abilities. While he is faithful to Emma, he is sometimes forced
to act as a player in his master’s game.
Their quest takes them through a number
of strange worlds, and introduces them to some equally strange allies and
enemies. One of the more dangerous things about the multiverse is that it’s
not always easy to tell which is which. The rulers of these worlds are addicted
to game playing, and do not hesitate to lie, cheat, turn the tables and use
the lives of others as pawns in their machinations.
In addition to all of that, Emma has
to cope with the fact that Summer, her younger “sister”, is a queen in Argadnel,
and under the influence of all sorts of advisors, who view Emma as a nuisance.
In fact, there are times when Emma thinks that Summer may be getting just
a bit too puffed up with her own self-importance, and too much under the sway
of her courtiers. She’s not sure that Summer really understands the importance
of her mission to help Leto.
Left behind in all of this is Emma’s
Earth father, Dennis Sweeny, whose obsession with the patterns of standing
stones was so vital in the first books. We pay him a short visit in this one,
discovering that the departure from this reality of his wife and daughters
has left him damaged in ways both physical and mental. There are issues to
be resolved here.
As book two closes we have a sense
that Emma is trying to sort out her complex relationships, that she needs
to find her own real parents and sort out all the confusion that has come
into her life since she first discovered who and what she really was. These
things, will, I expect, be key issues in Finder, the last book in the
Margaret Buffie is the WInnipeg-based
author of a number of excellent young adult books, including The Watcher’s
Quest trilogy, Who is Frances Rain? and Angels Turn their Backs. Her work
is well known in Canada, and she has been published internationally in Germany,
China, England, Sweden and Norway.