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Abadazad: The Dream Thief - Book #2 (Abadazad) by J.M. DeMatteis
Review by Drew Bittner
Hyperion Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 1423100646
Date: 01 June, 2006 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

That villain -- the spindly and many-armed Lanky Man -- has Matt in his clutches. He is using Matt's powerful dreaming ability for his own purposes, but realizes that Kate has come to Abadazad and begins to mobilize his own forces against her. (Hence the title: Abadazad: The Dream Thief.)

Kate wakes up in Inconceivable, city of the immortal Queen Ija, to find the city under assault from Rocket Heads (manlike creatures who fire their detachable heads like rockets, then regrow them). She escapes their assault with the help of Master Wix, a living candle in the shape of a boy. Kate describes the differences between the Abadazad she knows from books and movies and the land she's exploring; Kate begins to realize that what she assumes about Abadazad might not only be wrong, but it could land her in serious danger.

The arrival of Queen Ija sends the Rocket Heads packing, after which Martha and Kate catch up Ija on the troubled history of our world. Kate also learns why Franklin O. Davies (the "writer" of Abadazad, who transcribed Martha's adventures) embellished some aspects of his work, which gives her some insight into just how much Earth is unlike Abadazad.

As a banquet in her honor is prepared, Kate and Wix flee from Inconceivable, only to find themselves in the company of the Waterlogged Warlock. This strange being is responsible for Inconceivables past, present and future, so that Kate learns brand-new secrets about the city Ija rules and what immortality really means. She's sent on the next leg of her journey with her resolve stronger than ever, but realizes that there are dangers ahead that she cannot even imagine. If she's lucky and can find help in the bizarre dreamscape, her quest may yet lead to Happily Ever After. Maybe.

Once again, DeMatteis, Ploog and colorist Nick Bell have crafted a wonderful adventure story, suitable for all ages. Like Oz and Wonderland, the heroics of a plucky girl and her exotic companions, not to mention a hideously evil enemy, are at once familiar and entirely new; DeMatteis and Ploog create a well-populated new world that evokes the spirit of these older works while being entirely its own creation. It's a remarkable feat of writing and artistry together.

Kate continues to grow in this installment, her temper still her worst enemy and leading her to make bad judgments, but she is bright and perceptive; her encounters with Abadazad's strange entities present her with myriad opportunities to learn. Some of what she discovers may not be immediately relevant to her mission, but it enriches the setting immeasurably to give both the version Kate knows and the version she experiences directly. The contrast between a "children's book" Abadazad and the real thing gives the creators a chance to say many things about growing up and understanding the complexities and dangers of the real world. Again, a remarkable feat of writing.

New characters include Master Wix and Auntie Nott, whose girlhood shyness led to her vanishing entirely; although she appears to be an empty dress and bonnet, but her boundless good cheer makes her a fit governess for Kate. The Waterlogged Warlock is equally interesting, given his peculiar responsibilities, and the Lanky Man starts to come into his own with small displays of his methods and powers. He's shaping up as a terrific villain, vicious and mercurial, and there's certainly more going on with him than meets the eye.

In all, this second installment ramps up the excitement and the danger, while starting to reveal some startling secrets of Abadazad. Those who love young adult fiction of surreal otherworlds will be richly rewarded by spending time here.

Readers can learn more about the series, the creators and the bizarre natives of this fantastic place at their website.

Strongly recommended.

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