Gr 6—9—Princess Darrianka and her brother, Varis, travel far from their barbaric home in the Raellian countryside to Ghostland for different reasons—Darri is hoping to save her sister from a political marriage to the prince of Ghostland. Varis is following their father's orders and plans to trade Darri for Callie and then to conquer Ghostland for territorial domination. Things are never that cut-and-dried, however, and there are definite problems with both of their plans. Will Darri save Callie? Does Callie even want to be saved? Will Darri and Varis find a common purpose and actually get along? The family drama here is pretty thick. Nightspell is a great entry into fantasy as it reads more like European royal historical fiction. Even students who do not typically like fantasy will enjoy this title, and the connections to the alliance-building betrothals and hostile takeovers could be linked to the social-studies curriculum. The book would make a good read-aloud, as it is packed with impressive grotesque imagery and action.—Kristina Weber, Bernotas Middle School, Crystal Lake, IL
This tale of courtly intrigue stars both living and dead players, each with his or her own schemes, driven by love, guilt, and power-lust. In Ghostland, murder victims linger to avenge their own deaths. Darri's sister was trapped there--but she may not want to be saved. This solid companion to Mistwood fills its intriguing and eerie world with tightly woven relationships.

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