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

Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu (The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts #2)
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Release Date
July 25, 2023
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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.

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Taking risks to do what's right
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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 Lexie 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. Lexie 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 Lexie’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 Lexie’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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