Spoiler alert! If you haven’t yet read book one (The Hunter), grab your copy and get reading…
What’s going on?
We left Jenny and her friends, at the end of book one, missing a paper house, a friend and a certain promise ring. After confining Julian with a rune of constraint behind a door in his own game, they escape back into the real world, only to have the paper house stolen. The two guys who were following Jenny at the start of the book are under the Game’s spell, and they break into her house and make off with it.
The search for Summer, who died during the Game, begins. Jenny and her friends go back to school, and seem to be falling prey to strange hallucinations.
Eventually, they find the paper house – exploded as if something has burst out of it. The guys who stole the house have played their own Game, and they lost… after freeing Julian from his prison. Now he’s trying to hold Jenny to her oath: “All I refuse and thee I choose.”
Jenny agrees to play a new game: Lambs and Monsters. What she doesn’t realise until afterward is that everyone who survived the paper house is a player: Jenny, Tom, Dee, Michael, Audrey and Zach, against Julian the Shadow Man and his supernatural assistants, the Creeper and the Lurker.
Jenny and her friends have to find Julian’s ‘base’ before all the ‘lambs’ are captured, or Jenny will belong to him forever.
Why does it rock?
The thing I love about these books is that the characters grow and change because of what they’ve experienced. Tom is insecure about his future with Jenny, after seeing her reaction to Julian. Zach, a keen photographer, gets artist’s block on his return from the Game. Jenny herself is stronger and more confident, and attracts the unwanted, admiring attention of the school’s quarterback as a result.
The second game is set in the real world, and is possibly creepier than the first one because of it. Being hunted at school, at home or out on the street is far more chilling than being hunted in a fantasy world.
Julian plays by the rules, giving them obscure clues before abducting each ‘lamb’, but the advantage is on his side. The ways in which each of Jenny’s friends are captured are suited to each of them, which makes each loss more distressing to Jenny and to the reader.
This is just as fast-paced and intriguing a read as the first book, if not better. The Creeper and the Lurker were barely featured in The Hunter, but LJ Smith more than makes up for that here. And Julian is still seductively, ethereally cruel. Fans of sexy supernatural beings won’t be disappointed, and fans of traditional terror will be more than happy, too!
The Chase (The Forbidden Game Vol. 2) – L. J. Smith
Paperback, 768 pages (Trilogy)
June 8, 2010, by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing