Book of Light is a lively fantasy novel aimed at children aged 9–12, but this certainly doesn’t count it out as a book that adults would enjoy too. It’s the second book in Rachel Tetley’s series, The Underworld Chronicles – and I’m sure fans of the first book, The Guardian, will be happy to see that Jake has returned for another adventure. (If you are new to the series, I would recommend reading The Guardian before Book of Light, in order to be aware of the events that led to this particular trip to the Underworld with Jake).
In Book of Light, we find Jake Summers, now aged 12, taking on his role as the Guardian of the Underworld. Being Guardian is a responsibility that weighs heavily on his young shoulders at times – especially as he is still coming to terms with his grandfather’s death – but he has friends to help him along the way: those who appeared in the first book, as well as new characters.
The story has plenty of the elements you would hope for in a fantasy novel: magic, mystery, dragons and other fantasy creatures (both good and bad). Some characters’ appearances could be more clearly sketched, but maybe our imaginations are supposed to do a little work too! Among Jake’s co-adventurers in the Underworld are his friend Arianna and his cousin Will, and the interactions between the three of them are well-written and natural, with gentle humour – and at times an edginess that reflects the doubts and worries that come with being a pre-teenager.
The narrative is generally evenly paced and descriptions are vivid, allowing the reader to really feel part of the adventure – helped by the fact that Rachel Tetley has also illustrated the book, which I think is an attractive and individual touch. There are a few loose ends and unexplained elements within the plot – but hopefully this means that we can look forward to finding out about these in the next book, which is due out this year (2016).