Reviews for Second Siege

Booklist Reviews 2008 September #2
It's Max McDaniels' second year at Rowan Academy, a contemporary American boarding school where students are trained to fight against supernatural foes. He and his sorcerer roommate, David, along with several others, human and non, are embroiled in a quest to stop the demon Astaroth from finding the Book of Thoth, which holds the key to all creation. As governments fall to Astaroth, Max and David travel across Europe and beyond in search of the book's location. Proud, emotional Max and frail, calculating David suffer realistic setbacks and humbling experiences that change them, while Astaroth is delightful in his sly, polite wickedness. Neff's writing is infused with history and myth, and a sense of adventure: add well-rounded characters, and this makes for a captivating read.  New readers should start with the first book, The Hound of Rowan (2007) as this one doesn't look back, but the dark conclusion and its potential consequences will ensure an eager readership for the third. Although Neff will not escape Harry Potter comparisons, in this volume he moves into his own distinctive voice. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
Max and David, two preternaturally talented students at magical Rowan Academy, quest around the world and eventually beyond to prevent a demon from gaining the power to unmake creation. This dark sequel (the forces of good are continually defeated) swells in scale and scope, and Neff occasionally overrelies on summary, but overall his storytelling remains compelling. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 August #1
A series about an American academy of magic takes a dark turn in this sequel to The Hound of Rowan (2007). Max McDaniels is the chosen guardian of his magically powerful but physically weak roommate David Menlo. Their nemesis, the recently freed demon Astaroth, wishes to get his hands on the all-powerful Book of Thoth, and it's up to Max and David to find it first and keep it safe. Tensions within the school and in the outside world threaten to destroy our heroes' will, and in the end it falls on them to determine what is best for their friends and family. There is very little catching-up in this book, so readers will need to have read the previous novel to follow much of the action. Remarkably, given the breakneck pace, Neff's writing moves from scene to scene without breaking stride or ever pushing the action too far. Characters and motivations remain clear, though the surprise ending will leave certain readers reeling. After devouring this title, young fans will clamor for more. (Fantasy. 11-15) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 February

Gr 5-8--Fans of The Hound of Rowan (Random, 2007) will love this sequel. Those who haven't read the first book will simply be puzzled. In their second year at Rowan Academy, Max McDaniels and his roommate David Menlo, a mystic, discover that they must live with the Witches to fulfill a pact made years before they were born. To keep them and the Book of Thoth safe from the demon Astaroth and in the hands of Rowan agents, they are "kidnapped" by an ally. While on the run, the Red Branch offers to activate Max to be its newest agent. Initially, Max demurs but after dodging danger in Europe, finding his mother in the land of the Sidh, discovering his real father's identity, and having several harrowing encounters with Astaroth, he embraces his identity as the reincarnation of Cuchulain and joins as a full-fledged agent. The Second Siege is chock-full of magic, myth, and adventure, and has some fun and interesting characters and an intense, engaging plot. That said, without the background information from the first book, it will be hard for readers to follow.--Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA

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