Shadows of the Dark Crystal

illus. by Brian Froud. 272p. (Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal). ebook available. Grosset & Dunlap. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780448482897.
Gr 6–9—Journey to Thra, a deeply magical world where one young gelfling woman is about to begin an epic quest that will shake Thra to its roots. Naia yearns to see the world beyond the swampland she calls home, yet she knows her role is to remain and become the matriarch of her people. However, when word comes that her twin brother has been accused of treason, Naia is the only one who can make the arduous journey to the Castle of Crystal. Determined to clear her brother's name and set things right, Naia finds all that she knows thrown into question. What is the dark and malevolent force that is creeping through the land? What connection does it have to the great crystal and the Skeksis Lords in the castle? What she learns will put her very life at risk and set in motion events that will determine the fate of her world. With deft nods to the original Dark Crystal movie and a passionate attention to detail, the author has fashioned an impressive prequel. Fans (who will instantly recognize certain elements) and newcomers alike will find themselves immersed in a new narrative, with new protagonists and dangers to face. Pencil sketch interior illustrations will help readers visualize uncommon characters. This author's debut fantasy title is the first of four that chronicle the early history of the Dark Crystal, but it remains to be seen if he can pull off an upbeat adventure when the dark future is already established.
VERDICT Readers who crave otherworld fantasy such as Jaleigh Johnson's The Mark of the Dragonfly and Paul Durham's The Luck Uglies will enjoy discovering this new series.

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