The Underground Labyrinth by Louella Dizon San Juan
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (142 pages)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
The summer is off to a terrible start for Jinny, with bad weather and a cancelled birthday party. It hardly seems a year ago that she had gone on an adventure with her sister Jada, the rebel fairy Minacrist, and the magical people they met within the secret fairy kingdom of New York City. But when a mysterious river man appears with a special key, Jinny, Jada, and their neighbor, Sam, are pulled into a race against time. A sickness has struck the kingdom, turning good fairies into evil, and the children must join forces with Minacrist and their elfin friends to find the source of the Black Power…before the Black Power destroys them.
You never really know when another adventure might coming knocking at your door.
Every time I take the subway I wonder what it would be like to explore the parts of it that aren’t open to the public. There’s something magical about those long, dark tunnels whose secrets are only uncovered by a lucky few. What surprised me was how the feeling one gets when staring into those tunnels was connected to what happens in this story. It’s hard to discuss this in any more detail without giving away spoilers, but I was pleased by how this sort of completely ordinary experience could be given such an unexpected twist.
The cast of characters was a little too big for a novella of this size. At times I had trouble remembering who was who, especially when it came to all of the new elves and other magical creatures that were introduced here for the first time. It would have been helpful to either have a glossary describing who everyone was or for the text itself to give periodic reminders about basic information like this.
With that being said, I enjoyed how creative the author was when naming and describing all of her characters. This entire series has impressed me so far. Elves have names that genuinely sound Elvish, unpronounceable syllables and all. That’s the sort of small detail that actually makes a big difference for me when I’m deciding what to read next due to how much fun it is to become so immersed in that universe. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Dizon San Juan comes up with next.
This is the sequel to The Crowded Kingdom. It can be read as a standalone novel, but I highly recommend checking out the first book to anyone who is even slightly intrigued by the brief recap of what happens in it in the first chapter of this one.
I’d recommend The Underground Labyrinth to fans of the science fiction and young adult genres alike.