Darkness Hidden

352p. (The Name of the Blade: Bk. 2). ebook available. Candlewick. Nov. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763669584. LC 2014957108.
Gr 5 Up—When readers first met Mio Yamato in The Name of the Blade (Candlewick, 2014), she was learning about her unique heritage, mastering the katana somehow bound to her (as well as Shinobu, the compelling boy who emerges from inside it), and protecting her friends from legions of monsters from Japanese myth. After that adventure, she has little time to catch her breath before this sequel begins. Mio and her friends are home, but things are not well: hordes of creatures called Foul Women are descending on the town, a terrifying figure called the Harbinger has arrived for the katan, Mio's friend Rachel is recovering badly from her encounter with the legendary Nekomata, and the more the protagonist learns about the katana and her heritage, the more she is convinced things will not work out well for her. It doesn't help that she's developing feelings for Shinobu despite his own history and link to the katana. Much like the previous volume, this entry is well paced and exciting and offers a look into Japanese mythology hard to find elsewhere. The story here is not distinct from that of the first book, as the plot picks up from where it left off and unfolds in much the same way. As a result, this sequel cannot be read without the first.
VERDICT While not a dramatic stand-alone title, this solid and gripping work will keep readers interested in what's to come.

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