Reviews for Bran Hambric: The Specter Key

Booklist Reviews 2010 December #1
Fifteen-year-old Bran, devastated by the death of his best friend, is caught between a conviction that Astara isn't really dead and the need to unravel the mystery of a box left him by his recently deceased mother. He is pushed and pulled through a series of crises until he finds himself in a face-off with the sinister mages who killed his friend. This action-driven sequel to The Farfield Curse (2009) is heavily dependent on knowledge of the previous title, and as in the first book, uneven writing and pacing lessen the impact of inventive landscapes and a few delightfully distinctive characters. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
In his second adventure, Bran Hambric, teen mage in a city that forbids magic, finds a box left by his long-dead mother. This leads to the Specter Key, which connects him to his past and results in the kidnapping of his friend, Astara. Nation employs movie-worthy action, but the story's irrelevant details and dangling plot lines make for a disjointed read. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 September #2

The author of Bran Hambric: The Fairfield Curse (2009) dishes up an equally maladroit sequel featuring the same sort of nonsensical plot, clumsy satirical elements and ham-fisted writing. Tucking in lines like, "It knew his name, which was enough to send terror through his skin," and, "the creature leapt forward, striking his finger with her teeth," Nation sends his young wizard-in-training on a rescue mission after a mysterious Key left him by his dead mother explodes with magic one random night and sucks the soul of his best friend/main squeeze Astara into a trap (her corpse conveniently disappears from its buried coffin some time later). Joined along the way by his previously unknown father and a Tinkerbell-style vampire fairy with obscure loyalties and motives, Bran eventually finds and destroys the trap (and the Key—supposedly, that is) in the sort of running battle with the mage who killed his mother that pauses while he dives into a lake to rescue the miraculously alive Astara and ends with everyone pretty much back where they started, poised for the next episode. Not a stand-alone, or, for that matter, a stand-at-all. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.