Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Last Mirror on the Left (Legendary Alston Boys #2)

Giles, Lamar. and Adeola, Dapo (illustrations).
The Last Mirror on the Left (Legendary Alston Boys #2)
October 20th 2020 by Versify
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

After The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, Otto and Sheed return to their world rather warily, especially since Otto is very concerned that Sheed is ill and will die prematurely. He tries to convince his grandmother to take the boys to the doctor, but are soon swept up in another adventure. Officer Nedraw needs the boys' help; Nevan has escaped from his mirror prison in the Rirrom Mirror Emporium and has freed a lot of other criminals and taken them into another dimension, the Warped World. Trying to retrieve him is dangerous, and the boys run into other threats, like the ArchnaBRObia gang of jailbird spiders with names like Spenelope. These spiders turn out to be more helpful than dangerous, and the boys start on their quest through this alternate reality. They run into versions of people they know from Fry, including Dr.Medina, odd versions of Wiki and Leen, and even travel into other worlds. Otto's main concern is still Sheed's health, and when he learns that there is a cure-all elixer, Fixityall, he wants very much to obtain some for Sheed. However, Dr, Medina warns him that unless Sheed intends to stay in Warped World forever, taking the medicine might have serious consequences. In addition to finding Nevan, the boys turn their attention to the disappearances occurring in town. Could the two be connected? And what is behind the alternate versions of people in Warped World? Most importantly, will Otto be able to look into the Black Mirror and see an old version of Sheed so he knows his cousin will survive?
Strengths: Any significantly well-crafted time travel or alternate dimension book makes my brain hurt a little bit, and Otto's and Sheed's journey into Warped World caused a little bit of an ache! Their hunt for Nevan causes them to question many other occurrences in Warped World, and Nedraw in particular. I liked that the explanation for why people manifest the way they do in Warped World, and there is a sort of Phantom Tollbooth allegorical vibe to this.  There are also funny things like "butt shrubs". You'll just have to read this to find out about those! It's difficult to find fantasy books with Black characters, and I am so glad that Otto and Sheed are prominent on the cover! Most of all, Otto's concern for his cousin and his attempts to insure his survival is a great example of a caring, positive relationship between boys.
Weaknesses: It would have been nice to see more of Wiki and Leen in this; they are intriguing characters, and excellent foils for the Alston boys.  I have four copies of Giles' Fake ID, which is hugely popular in my library, so I keep hoping for another murder mystery from this author!
What I really think: I can see this being especially popular in an elementary setting, especially with the spot illustrations, the goofy names, and the funny adventures, but it is also a solid choice for middle school libraries wanting to add some humor and diversity to their collections.

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