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Julia Defiant: The Witch's Child #2    by Catherine Egan order for
Julia Defiant
by Catherine Egan
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2017 (2017)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Julia Defiant follows Julia Vanishes as the second in Catherine Egan's YA fantasy series, The Witch's Child. It all began in a Dickensian city (Spira) where witches are regularly drowned in public Cleansings to eliminate all magic from the realm.

Teen Julia and her older brother Benedek were taken in by Esme (ruler of Spira's criminal underworld) after their mother was executed as a witch. Aiding her work for Esme, Julia can make herself unseen by those around her. In the first episode, horrific murders plagued the city. Julia worked undercover for a mysterious client (Pia) as housemaid Ella in rich Mrs. Och's mansion.

There, she befriended Frederick, Bianka and her small son Theo. But then Pia ordered her to kidnap and hand over Theo. Julia learned that she was embroiled in a conflict between powerful immortals (including Mrs. Och and her opponent Casimir) and that an ancient magic had been enspelled into Theo - those seeking him plan to kill him to extract it. And though Julia risked her life to redeem herself, she still feels guilty.

As Julia Defiant opens, she has pledged to help Mrs. Och find Ko Dan, who cast the dark spell on Theo, to force him to undo his work. Julia and Dek, Mrs. Och and associates, Bianka and small Theo travel together to Tianshi (where magic is permitted), seeking Ko Dan. But Casimir and his minions are hot on their trail. And Julia fears her own abilities. Now she can not only become unseen, but can move into another world, a hellish one, whose monstrous inhabitants seem to recognize her - is she a monster too?

Spying on the Shou-shu Monastery in Tianshi, Julia encounters a Fraynish girl and also another spy, Jun, a fierce boy who also uses magic. There's plenty of angst and action, especially after Pia arrives in the city, and Mrs. Och's distrust of Julia increases steadily. As tension mounts to a dramatic conclusion, Julia learns more of her own mother. This exciting episode ends on quite the cliffhanger, leaving readers anxious to find out what comes next.

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