L.J. Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of the Night World and Vampire Diaries series. She has written over twenty-five books and lives in California.
Gr 5-7-- California is the setting for this sequel to Night of the Solstice (Macmillan, 1987), which combines Arthurian legend and original fantasy. Thia Pendriel, a power-hungry sorceress from the Wildworld, awakens the great magician Merlin; Alys, Charles, Janie, and Claudia must once again help the sorceress Morgana defend the world. Smith's imaginative reworking of legend casts Merlin not as a sage, but as an unscrupulous trickster. She exhibits a sure touch with children's thoughts and feelings, and the opening scene in Claudia's third-grade classroom will draw readers quickly into the story. In the beginning, Merlin's story is entwined with the children's through Alys' dreams. The magical beings from the Wildworld are part of a third plot strand, which is less well realized than the other two. For this reason, the coming together of these elements in a pyrotechnic display of magical power at the climax does not live up to the promise of earlier pages and may leave readers with unanswered questions. --Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Public Library