Full review at Fire and Ice http://fireandicephoto.blogspot.com/2013/07/penumbras-by-braden-bell-blog-tour.html
It's been quite a while since I read book one, The Kindling, but if there's one thing this series has, it's "stick-to-it-iveness." The characters and plot are well crafted and so unique I was able to pick right back up with book two and remember what was going on. It's also a book that once you put it down it stays with you.
Conner and his twin sister Lexa are right in the midst of a battle between light and dark, good and evil, but this time around there is a blurring of the lines-- shades of gray that are being fought on a personal battlefield deep within the soul. The team of brother & sister, plus their sidekicks, Pilaf and Melanie must retreat to Mockingbird Cottage ( don't you love the name) to train a little harder and protect themselves from the shadows and dark hand forces which seek to destroy them from the inside out.
Somewhere along the way Conner and Melanie begin to develop feelings for each other and the sweet middle school magic of first love starts to soar. Lexa won't have it--she begins to feel jealous, like a third wheel and we really see her drama queen side start to come out. She is real, someone you can picture walking right out of your middle school cliques of friends, always thinking the world must revolved around her next starring role. And Pilaf...what can we say? I'm pretty sure he's somewhere on the autism spectrum, as he is brilliant but admits he can't read facial clues or nuances in social interactions. Thank you to Braden for painting imperfect people who are dealing with those trials and character flaws we all experience.
What I loved is that this is a book that explores the trauma related to abuse in a easy to swallow yet understandable way for children. Conner is much more that he things he is--he has divine heritage and the supernatural assistance of workers of light to assist him in fighting those that work against him. While he is facing deep inner conflicts as a result of his time with Lady Nightwing, the evil mastermind of darkness, he also has the aid of light to help heal his soul. There is so much more than magic going on in this book!
Content wise there was a little too much action for me in the ending scenes (the series really needs to be made into a movie...it would be awesome) and some moderate violence involving a knife and other weapons. But, I think it's one your middle school children will enjoy.
I recommend it for ages 12 and up as well as adults.
There is much about Penumbras that I will never forget! Wonderful world building, colorful characters, rich descriptions and tons of action. Great job Braden!