This second book in a projected Morpheus Road trilogy is a retelling of events from the first book, but this time from a different point of view. The first book is narrated by Marshall Seaver, a boy who is still grieving from the loss of his photographer mother two years before, who died while photographing an ancient Greek tomb. Marshall believes he is being haunted by a character he himself created called "Gravedigger". Frightened, bewildered and unable to find his friend Cooper, he forms an alliance with Cooper’s sister. As ever more dangerous manifestations occur, Marsh is confronted by a hostile spirit that demands his help in locating a mysterious weapon called a poleax. At the conclusion of the book, Marsh makes contact with the spirit of his missing friend, and with his help is able to overcome his nemesis, the angry spirit of a warrior named Damon, who once served with, and then betrayed, Alexander the Great.
These events all took place in "The Light" one of the three locations along the Morpheus Road, the road of life and death. The second book is set in "The Black", the location to which most departed spirits go, and are narrated by the missing friend, Cooper Foley, who, having been killed in a boating accident manipulated by Damon, is now a spirit resident of The Black. Through his eyes we now see the other part of the story, and how events occurring in the Black manifested in Marsh’s reality in the Light. Damon has grown impatient with his existence in the Black, and is seeking to find the power to return to life. He has amassed enough power to effect events in The Light, and is seeking to force Marsh and Cooper to help him find the poleax, the weapon that will allow him to return to The Light. Cooper struggles to assist Marsh, while at the same time hoping to foil Damon’s attempts to upset the balance of the Universe by destroying the Morpheus road.
This is a fast paced, action-adventure fantasy that presents an unusual but interesting view of life and afterlife. MacHale’s vision of the afterlife as a series of self-created realities in which departed spirits reside and through which they can move is intriguing, and the concept of viewing the same events from both life and afterlife makes and interesting, if occasionally confusing, story line. As is usual in offerings from this author, characterization and writing take a back seat to fast paced action, but most reader’s will find themselves racing through the book to solve the various mysteries, and find explanations for the spooky events. This should be a hit with older students who love horror fantasy. 416 pages
Reviewed by: Linda Lucke, Learning Center Director, Illinois, USA