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The Shaktra    by Christopher Pike order for
by Christopher Pike
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Shaktra is a sequel to Alosha, in which Alison Warner, grieving over her mother's death, underwent a series of trials to prepare her to save humanity from an incursion of elementals from another dimension. Along the way, she strengthened her friendships with Cindy and Steve, was betrayed by Karl, and brought Paddy the leprechaun and Farble the troll home with her. As the first book ended, Alison discovered that she was really Geea, the powerful Queen of the Fairies.

The sequel opens on a police officer asking questions about Karl's disappearance. Ali struggles to keep her weird new friends fed (never let a troll get hungry!) and plans to go back into the elemental kingdom to find out her mother's fate. In the meantime, Steve has been digging into Karl's hard drive and unearthed a connection to Omega Overtures, a video game corporation located in Toule and run by Sheri Smith. They head there to investigate and meet Smith's autistic daughter Nira. A young man is killed by a car in front of Steve and Cindy, who find out about a mysterious plant explosion that killed over a hundred people.

Ali leaves for the elemental kingdom, warning her friends to stay away from Toule, but of course they don't listen and rush headlong into danger. Ali, Paddy and Farble fight dark elves and collect allies - a shaman in training named Ra (whose arrows don't miss) from the slopes of Kilimanjaro, and a koul (a kind of dragon tadpole) named Drash who's ashamed of his dragon king dad's decision to support the Shaktra. They fight brain-eating scabs and grotesque monsters that used to be elementals. Ali helps Drash evolve into a dragon, and he flies her up to the kloudar. She learns what happened to her mom, the identity of her enemy, and the fate of her friends.

It's an entertaining series, with plenty of puzzles and non-stop action, powerful adversaries, and an engaging lead who must learn to cope with her growing powers and to recognize that even those have limitations. I'm looking forward to what comes next in the third episode, The Yanti.

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