Review originally posted here
.Why I Read It:
Next in a series.
This volume lost a little of the forward momentum I thought volumes three and four had picked up, but it still enjoyable regardless.
This volume focuses largely on Smiley Bone and Fone Bone as they try to reunite Bartleby (the baby rat creature they found and have since named) with the other rat creatures outside the valley. In doing so, they get lost in the mountains and end up in the hands of the less-than-nice Rocque Jaw, a giant mountain lion who rules the place.
For all his talk of picking sides, I found Rocque frustratingly sideless. He's not with the Rat Creatures because he hates Rat Creatures, but he's not with the dragons because he hates dragons even more. Okay..? But then he insists that the Bones HAVE to pick a side if they're going to be stuck in the valley. Whatever! I do think it was revealed that he works for the Hooded One though, but that doesn't make much sense because he's commanding the Rat Creatures... Anyway, all this to say is that Rocque Jaw was a frustrating character, and a serious asshole.
I love that Bartleby was so present in this volume. He is too cute for words.
There was some welcome exposition in this volume, as the two Bone cousins find a temple where the Lord of Locusts was sealed away into a statue, but it also happens to be the site where a DRAGON was sealed away into stone as well. All very curious stuff. The cute little animal kids that accompany the Bones also provide some insight into the world of dreams, and how it's all intrinsically linked to the physical world as well (or the "hum-hum" as they call it.) Bring on the cool world-building Smith.
The tension in this volume was quite good as well; the crew spends most of this volume being chased around, either by Rocque Jaw or Kingdok, and they're both enemies that the Bones KNOW they can't defeat, so many close calls are had even though I know this is a kid series and no one major is likely to be killed off.
I also appreciated that Smith didn't make either the Stupid Rat Creatures or Rocque Jaw take the Bones side by the volume's end and make them into good guys. It would have been predictable and is the typical course for kid-friendly stories to take.Final Verdict:
This is another solid volume in the series, though I felt like it lost a bit of the forward moment that was accumulated in the third and fourth volumes. There was still lots of tension though as the enemies in this were actually SCARY and could do bad things to our heroes if they got caught. There's more world-building in this volume which was more than welcome; the world Smith has created continues to flesh itself out and become more and more whole.