Illustrated by Drew Zucker
At the end of the first book, Canto’s people leave Arcana to make a New Arcana. The first chapter is a short side-story where Canto frees some fairies from being tortured by an evil witch. Then, we go into New Arcana and see Canto and his friends in their new home. The Shrouded Man hasn’t come after them, but that’s probably because he has cursed their clocks to slowly wind down. Canto and a few friends decide to travel back to the Tower and confront the Shrouded Man, hoping to beat their clocks and get the curse reversed. Along the way, they are attacked by The Furies, and Canto realizes that not all of his friends can come with him. He reaches his destination and hopes he has found a magic that can take down the Shrouded Man. Canto’s journey is definitely not over here, and the nice cliffhanger will have fans scrambling for the next volume.
This is truly an all-ages adventure that draws on The Labyrinth, The Wizard of Oz, and other great fantastical worlds to create a daring adventure story that students will love. My personal favorite, other than Canto, of course, is the cuddly, scary-looking Malorex, Canto's trusty friend and (basically) his steed, who is definitely a modern Ludo from Labyrinth. We do get a few more of Canto's race in this story as they are part of most of the journey this time, and it's great to see some more brave little tin people like Canto. All of them are such lovable characters, so the readers will be rooting for them all to figure out how they can win against such a formidable foe.
There is a little bit of violence in this series, but it's mostly magic related, so there isn't any blood. There is an LGBTQ+ character whose relationship is very subtly included, which is a great example of how writers can fold in characters from diverse backgrounds in a very natural way.
Just like the first volume, Zucker's illustrations sometimes steal the entire show. There are a few full-page or double-page spreads that are breathtaking in their beautifully balanced colors. Zucker has created a world that I would like to walk into and explore. I could easily see the inclusion of Canto in an art study with high school students, who will also enjoy the story the illustrations go with.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 5-12
Reviews of previous volumes in the series: vol 1
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Elementary School, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Comicbooks, Fantasy, CSLA 2021
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