Synopsis from Amazon:
Why do prophecies have to speak in riddles? Willow's destiny led her to a whole book of them. If that wasn't bad enough a gypsy witch shows up and utters words that made even less sense. Was it a curse or another prediction?
With Mike still missing, and Halloween approaching quickly Willow will need all of her friends to help connect the events of the past with the present, or there may not be a future. King Cornelius' plan to dominate every realm is woven into the mystery that surrounds every corner they turn. Following the clues will lead them on a journey through the spookiest time of the year.
"Be forewarned on Hallows Eve
those who are not of this world shall take to the streets,
blood shall flow and death shall follow.
Your presence attracts what we cannot explain.
Your destiny is written. You best make sure you listen."
It's only natural to be wary of sequels. I confess I kind of was. After the definite four-star quality (a case of too many characters and too many plot points almost—ALMOST—riding the story off the rails...) of the first book, I really had to face the fact that it really could be better, just as easily as it could have come off the same, or even a little worse, as sequels are wont to do.
This sequel is better! DEFINITELY better!
It picks up where Keeper's Destiny left off—and keeps right on building! Sure, there were a lot of elements to the first book that made it sort of complicated to follow, but now we get to see WHY all that was necessary! Almost like the first book was more of a prequel, and THIS is where the adventure begins! The group has made it to the place WE know as the "real world"—but their presence has accelerated the activity of their enemies, and now the world and all worlds—namely the portals that once networked them all—are in danger. A creepy "witch tour" through a real-world town (Salem? Can't remember if it had a name or not... it did contain a lot of witch-related history and memorabilia) itself reveals more secrets and answers more mysteries than Willow and her friends expected—and also presents new questions that need answering.
The character development in this story is my favorite part. Now that they have time and "space" in the story to interact and really start to find their places, the "voices" and personalities are more distinct.
The lore, also, gets an upgrade: now that we have backstory for the concepts introduced in the first book, the explanation doesn't bear repeating, so expansion and application is possible. We see the friends using their powers, working together to try and outwit a curse and find a powerful, ancient witch who might be able to help them—all the while avoiding detection by the singularly powerful King Cornelius and his brood. Old grudges are erased as status and distinction no longer matter; they are, for all intents and purposes, allies in pursuit of survival.
Halloween's Curse definitely accomplished everything a sequel ought to do: the simpler, more focused plot lent itself to a more secure foundation for excellent character development, and I am measurably more excited for the next book, now that I see what an improvement this has been! King has achieved her stride in this series, and it's just going to keep going from here on out!
I give HALLOWEEN'S CURSE a full *****5 STAR***** rating in all categories. If you enjoy witches and magic and dark urban fantasy, unique new takes on traditional legends and lore, and if you're looking for something new to read—Portal Prophecies would definitely fit that bill!
Further Reading: (YA Paranormal Urban Fantasy/"Teens of Destiny"/Female Leads)
-Girls Can't Be Knights--Lee French
-Puck's Choice--Skye Hegyes