Urchin and the Heartstone by M.I. McAllister

The second book in the Mistmantle Chronicles was as good as the first.

In this story, a boat arrives at Mistmantle with news of bad times on the island of Whitewings.  The island has become a refuge of Captain Husk's supporters, who were exiled from Mistmantle after refusing to acknowledge Crispin as the new king.  The Mistmantle exiles are reportedly causing trouble on Whitewings, and the hedgehog King Silverbirch is asking for Mistmantle's help, particularly from Urchin.  Despite Crispin agreeing that he would consider sending Urchin and a party to assist Silverbirch, the group from Whitewings kidnap Urchin and take him to their insane king, who wants to use Urchin to find more silver on the island.

As Crispin makes plans to rescue Urchin, it is discovered that the Heartstone is missing.  The Stone can only be held by a true king or priest of Mistmantle.  Crispin's coronation cannot be held until the Stone is found.  It is also discovered that another young Mistmantle squirrel is missing from the island.  Crispin and his followers must decide if young Juniper is part of the plot to kidnap Urchin, or if he stowed away to help him.

At Whitewings, Urchin is doing his best to appear to be useful to King Silverbirch.  If he fails, he will be given to Silverbirch's sorcerer, the squirrel Smokewreath, to do as he wishes.  It not only spells certain death for Urchin, but Juniper as well, who has fallen ill after nearly drowning on the journey to Whitewings.  An assortment of animals secretly plan to rescue Urchin, including the squirrel, Cedar, and the rightful queen of Whitewings, the hedgehog Larch.  In the midst of this terrifying ordeal, Urchin may finally discover who his parents were.

I found the descriptions of Silverbirch and especially Smokewreath almost terrifying.  The author did a good job detailing the evil lurking in these two characters.  The ending was definitely not what I expected, either, which made the book even better.

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About emeree

I am an Air Force veteran. I served as a Security Forces troop for nearly seven years and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant before separating in 2008. My tours of duty were in England and Oklahoma. I live in the Seattle area, which is where I grew up. I used my GI Bill and earned a degree from the University of Washington. I currently work in downtown Seattle and experience all the adventure that comes with that.
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