Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu (The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts #2)

 
4.5 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
679 0
Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu (The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts #2)
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
July 25, 2023
ISBN
978-1250208309
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It’s hard having a father who’s an infamous traitor. It’s even harder having a mother who’s an omen of doom.

After a summer away, Kelcie Murphy is excited to be back at the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts. But she and her friends have barely settled in when they receive a visit from her mother―the war goddess, Nemain―with a warning of coming calamity.

The Heart of Danu, the legendary source of all light and warmth in the Lands of Summer, is going to be stolen. And only Kelcie and her mates can stop it. As they travel with the rest of the students to Summer City to take part in the glorious Ascension Ceremony, Kelcie has no time for the military parade, the lavish ball, or even to visit her father: she’s determined to protect the Heart and her new home.

But the Lands of Summer are still not a welcoming place for Kelcie. When disaster strikes, the Queen, the High Guard, and even some of her schoolmates suspect Kelcie is to blame.

As the world is plunged into darkness, Kelcie will have to decide: does she keep fighting for a place that may always see her as a traitor’s daughter, or for a future greater than the war to come.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
The Face of the Enemy
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
This series is a unique blend of Celtic mythology and Harry Potter vibes in a unique otherworld setting. The people of Winter were the villains in the last book and the opponents of Summer in the never-ending war. I like that the author puts a face to the enemy with the introduction of Lexis and her teammates. They have the difficult task of securing a powerful object in summer by going undercover.
I like that we get to see what life is like for the banished Fomorians in Chawell Woods. It made me uncomfortable as a plot point that they were treated unfairly and even after Kelcie’s deeds in the last book, their situation remained the same. Their treatment would be great for a book club or class discussion and ties to historical events. I expected Kelcie and her friends to try harder to free them instead of accepting that it was a shame and having a different plot objective. I am glad that during the resolution of this plot, the treatment of the Fomorians was also addressed and started to be fixed.
Niall continues to be one of my favorite characters. I hate that a birth defect has led to his mother’s disdain in respecting his mind. I like the trajectory he is on as one of the key heroes and despite what his mother wants, he may be even more important to the future of the realm. Lexis was a great character with believable motivations and hesitations as her understanding of the situation changed. I did not care much for Swappy. He had cool powers and a good heart but he came off as whiney and overly flatulent which diminished my enjoyment of any scenes that he was in. I understand that flatulence is a great tool to keep the attention of middle-school-age readers, but it was an engaging plot without that part.
Overall, this was an interesting plot. The characters have neat magical abilities, good character growth, and changes to the current status quo of the realm. The next book is set up nicely to keep me interested in the series during a wait that is hopefully not too long.
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Taking risks to do what's right
(Updated: August 30, 2023)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
Kelcie and her friends find themselves in the middle of serious drama once again that ranges from saving the Land of Summer from total destruction to navigating boy-girl relationships. Kelcie learned in the first book that she has the rare abilities of a Pulse, able to manipulate all four elements of land, water, air, and fire, although she hasn’t learned to control them without disastrous outcomes. Much of her focus in this book is training in sword skills plus she must eventually learn to blend them with her elemental abilities. She’s upset with Niall but he’s dealing with complications arising from being the queen’s son. She must sort out her feelings for him (is she a bit jealous?) before the time of the formal ball arrives.
In the book’s prologue, readers discover the Land of Winter has a plan for revenge against the Land of Summer, and a young girl named Lexis has been ordered to go undercover at the academy. It’s not exactly clear what she’s going to do once she gets there so readers have plenty of time to imagine what kind of chaos she’ll create on Ascension Day. Lexis quickly “befriends” Kelcie and subtly begins to dig for information from her friends. She tries to ignore their kindness and remembers there will be serious consequences from the queen if she fails her mission. An interesting twist to Lexis’s character is that she’s a Pulse like Kelcie although her skills are more developed. Her fianna moves behind the scenes with their own elemental powers, preparing for the attack, but again, readers will have no idea where the plot is headed.
The lands of Summer and Winter have been waging a never-ending War since their origin. No one seems to know why they’re still battling and their queens dispense propaganda to maintain the conflict. However, this book brings characters from the two cultures together allowing them to compare and contrast the two lands. This consideration is mostly presented through Lexis’s eyes since the other characters don’t know she’s from Winter. She’s immediately surprised by the vivid colors but she later wonders about another character’s clipped wings. She’s heard about how Roswen failed the Winter Queen and wonders who might have dished out her punishment. This motivates Lexis to fulfill the queen’s mission but she has second thoughts when she discovers the truth about the Heart of Danu.
What didn’t work as well:
There are many references to events from the first book and readers may feel like they’re missing information, especially with regards to Kelcie’s first year at the academy. The story shares how her father is the most hated man in the world but readers won’t fully understand why. Also, even though Kelcie is the main character with rare abilities, readers may need to remind themselves that she’s not the leader of her fianna.
The Final Verdict:
This book has a myriad of intriguing problems that will engage and entertain readers. There are many dynamic characters with contrasting fiannas from both Winter and Summer. Overall, this book and series should fascinate middle-grader readers and I recommend you give them a shot.
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