The tagline on the cover says ‘Never Accept A Challenge Without Knowing The Rules’, well I agreed to this review without knowing the story. Full disclosure, Alyson has generously endorsed both my books and although we’ve never met I have followed her on Twitter for some time and find her delightful. My daughter bought a copy of The Warriors Return and really enjoyed it so when I found out the follow up was coming out I jumped at the chance to review it. The only thing was, I still hadn’t read the first one. Gasp.
My daughter was generous enough to allow me to borrow her copy of The Warriors Return and I dug in for an Ian Quicksilver marathon reading. The Cursed Dagger picks up right where we left Ian at the end of The Warriors Return.
[Spoiler Warning: if you haven’t read The Warriors Return yet stop reading this review unless you want to know how the first book ends]
Ian is still stuck in Puckerbush with the task of courting the magical princess Arianna. Side note: I Googled Puckerbush, Nevada and it does not register on Google maps but apparently there is such a place; although I’m not sure how its 28 residents would feel about Peterson’s portrayal of themselves and their town because both are pretty grim. [Side side note: That being said, I would still totally eat at the Wee Little Dragon.]
As an author working on my own sequel at the moment, I was interested to see what Alyson did with the world she created. Her task was to take the elements of the first story and build upon them. I can say honestly that she elevated the story on all levels. This book has everything a young fantasy reader is looking for. There are warriors, magical worlds, a princess, a wise old mentor, an evil magical villain, a dragon and far off kingdoms in need of help.
For just a moment I’ll talk about what I did not enjoy. Despite my new infatuation with Irish/Chinese cuisine I was not interested in returning to Puckerbush and, like Ian, yearned to see the glimmering shores of Bankhir. Although the action and drama are all ramped up in this book, a large part of it is set in the dingy desert town full of largely apathetic and uncaring people. I won’t lie, at more than one point I was rooting for the dragon.
The exception to the above paragraph was without a doubt Marvin. We met Marvin in The Warriors Return and he plays a much bigger role in this story and the story is better for it; not only his growing relationship with Ian but his interplay with Corbin.
Ah Corbin, the banished warrior guardian…and gym teacher. Corbin is my favorite character in both books. He embodies the warriors of Bankhir and really provides Ian with his only understanding of where he comes from and what he is fighting for. He is committed and uncompromising but beneath his battle hardened exterior he is caring and loyal. Plus he likes chunky peanut butter, which is always the correct answer.
I don’t think I am the target audience for Ian and Ari’s perpetually awkward courtship but I found plenty of smiles through Alyson’s first person narrative.
I could have sworn I heard the universe do an ominous ‘dun dun dun’ with my fate.
The Cursed Dagger is a worthy sequel in every way for Ian Quicksilver and company and I am looking forward to where they go next.