The Crystal Run introduced us to the long-running dystopian battle between the lands of Carcassia and Kanabia, and two young people caught up in its crossfire: Kaia, a girl brought up and trained to face danger to protect her native Carcassia; and Joe Hunter, an ordinary English boy who literally fell into danger when his escape from some schoolyard bullies led him through a portal to Kaia’s world. They developed a strong bond as Joe helped Kaia with her life’s purpose: to complete the Crystal Run through the protective shield erected between the two countries and place crystals in key positions to keep it in place. This second book in the series sees that bond tested, as Kaia has been attacked and wounded in the course of her mission and Joe comes to believe that the mission was never quite as pure as it was presented. At first imprisoned and then adrift in Kanabia, the pair begin to question all they have been told about the relationship between the two countries – and wonder why the forces of the land would lie to them.
In a climate where we hear of border issues and ‘fake news’ perhaps more than ever before, Shield of Lies is unexpectedly timely. Kaia and Joe are appealing, brave and resourceful characters, but they are constantly challenged by the questions of who and what to believe. How they discover their answers is insightful as well as exciting, and may inspire readers themselves to look beyond the surface of things. It won’t hurt either that Joe and Kaia’s adventures are fast-paced, twisty and told with flashes of humour. This is a strong and pacey continuation of their story, and not incidentally sets us up for an epic showdown in part three!