in the two years since its takeover of Obernewtyn, the secret community of Misfits has flourished. Protected by their remoteness, Elspeth Gordie and her allies have worked hard to develop their forbidden mental abilities—all in preparation for their inevitable confrontation with the totalitarian Council. And though their training is far from complete, the Misfits can no longer stay hidden when they learn of the existence of a new Talent—one whose power may eclipse anything they have seen before.
Written by an Australian children's author, this award-winning (in Australia) fantasy-adventure novel is the sequel to last year's Obernewtyn, which was first published Down Under in 1988; this book appeared there in 1990. It takes place in relatively familiar fantasy territory--think Julian May's Saga of Pliocene Exile without the descriptive power, or Anne McCaffrey without the dragons. Young narrator Elspeth Gordie is a mutant "Misfit" with unusual mental powers. Because, in Elspeth's world, both the oppressive religionists and the semi-governmental Council hate Misfits and hunt them down, her kind has joined together and found refuge on the mountain keep of Obernewtyn. Despite the danger, Elspeth and others--including a telepathic, human-hating horse--leave this refuge and undertake a journey to find an enormous book trove, and to save an extraordinarily gifted Misfit. Elspeth also has a mysterious personal quest to fulfill. Carmody's mostly clear, readable style is tainted by awkward "fantasy-speak" dialogue and etymologically curious argot (soldierguards, deathmachines, firstmeal, nightmeal). Better than its predecessor, the novel showcases engaging characters, pacing and plots that may, despite the publisher's adult marketing campaign, appeal primarily to adolescent females.