The castle has been overtaken by an evil darkeness that is spreading like the black plague, causing every living thing it comes in contact with to become comatose. Septimus must save the inhabitants of the castle and wizards marooned in the Wizard Tower who are fighting the darkeness in the action-packed 6th book of the Septimus Heap series.
Jenna and Septimus are not getting along. Jenna is frustrated because Septimus is so preoccupied with his upcoming Darke week test. He forgets to wish her happy birthday and he won't go take a look at the attic where weird things are happening. Instead, he's thinking about his test where he must rescue Alther who was accidentally banished by Marcia to the Darke. Hence, Jenna seeks help from Beetle and the two discover some ugly darke magic in the castle. By the time Septimus notices the dangers around him, the darke has not only taken over the castle and raised a Darke dragon, but his mom, Sarah, is swallowed by the evil as well. He has to rescue her now as well as Alther. He gets help from his very large family, Jenna, Beetle, Marcia, Spit Fyre and more, as he faces his daunting quest.
This book does not follow where book five left off, so don't expect the characters of Jim Knee and Syrah to take part in the action. Jenna asserts herself more in this book and has a no nonsense attitude. It was particularly funny when she attacked her attackers. Jenna contemplates what it means to be a princess and the obligations that come with that title. I kept waiting for the witches cloak to play more a part in the story and I thought Marcellus should have elaborated more about past witch princesses. I wonder if this will be explored more in book 7? Septimus changes in how he views his brother Simon. Simon takes responsibility for his bad choices in the past and accepts its consequences even when they are unpleasant. Septimus has to decide if he'll forgive Simon.
Many parts of the book are fun such as Beetle using his wits against Merrin, and Jenna putting Marissa in a headlock, Spit Fyre fighting the Darke dragon, and Merrin swallowing the Paired Code. On the other hand, there were other parts of the book I thought were lacking. For instance, I thought the part where Sarah goes back into the castle to get the duck as being out-of-character. She wouldn't put her children at risk to do that. In all the books she puts her kids first and it didn't make sense. The story also has the source of darkeness coming from a cursed ring that must be destroyed in a magical fire that will melt it. This part of the plot follows Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and I would have liked a different way of destroying it. I thought what Marcellus did to Merrin as being out-of-charater too. I don't remember him ever being violent. Was he in the last book and I don't remember? I also thought the chapter called, The Pig Tub, was slow. I know the author was setting up for the next chapter when everyone is reunited but it didn't need an entire chapter on its own. I think it was to show Nicko as not being interested in Snorri but I don't remember their relationship from previous books and found it didn't move the plot along very much, if at all. I also thought Septimus's rescue of Alther was anti-climatic. Tertius Flume just isn't much of an evil henchman. But these are minor issues with a fun, fantasy story. Harry Potter fans will enjoy it.
Reading Level 6.1
:-) :-) :-) 3.5 out of 5 Smileys