By norahaddad |
Bamboo Kingdom #2: River of Secrets

I've been waiting for this one since the first Bamboo Kingdom book came out. So far, the series is wonderful. I love the rainforest theme/choice of characters much more than Bravelands (which was decent, just not up my alley). It's the same cast of characters with altering perspectives in the chapters; Ghost, the white panda (searched this up and he's supposed to be leucistic, a partial loss of pigmentation rather than a complete loss of pigmentation like albinism *hence the cover art of him*), Rain (the stubborn yet good-hearted comic relief), and Leaf (cheerful and optimistic). The third triplet to Rain and Leaf remains unknown until the end *View spoilers in plot*. 

(Warning: spoilers included.)

Now that Shadowhunter has guided Leaf and told her about her and the other triplets' destinies, including that they're fated to become Dragon Speakers, she's reunited with her twin sister Rain, her aunt Plum, and her best friend Dasher and she's on the trail to Dragon Mountain to meet the Great Dragon. Meanwhile Ghost is falling under the false Dragon Speaker's spell and doesn't suspect anything of Sunset Deepwood because he's blinded by the excitement being in a group of pandas like him. 

Leaf, Rain, and Plum's journey slow to a halt as the result of a series of unfortunate events through the course of which Leaf concludes that it's not the right time for her to visit the Dragon Mountain. She still has to reunite with her other triplet, which has been completely AWOL in the past two books without any real clues regarding their actual identity. The group agrees to separate; Leaf to follow the sign she received from the bats and Rain and Plum to return to the Slenderwood pandas, away from Sunset. Sunset's character is very reminiscent of Stinger, the main antagonist in the first three books of Bravelands (the whole vibe of "I'm everyone's savior who magically appeared after so-and-so happened, I'm so kind and fatherly and wise- or am I? Am I actually what I say I am, or just a power-hungry impostor?"). 

Shiver gets fed up with Ghost dismissing her suspicions and claiming that she's "jealous" of him finding a group like him, and storms away. Ghost, instead of following her, starts becoming a sort of soldier for Sunset- doing tasks for him in secret, overseeing the golden monkeys carry out mysterious items for Sunset such as odd plants. But those tasks take a darker turn when a panda turns up dead after accusing Sunset of being a fraud. And clearly, it wasn't a predator that killed out of a need to feed- predators don't make their prey's death cruel, and the wounds on Plum are far from merciful. Things take an even darker turn when Sunset explicitly orders Ghost to "take care of" Pepper (the panda who claims to be a triplet searching for his siblings), telling Ghost to become "the white monster" again. Ghost has an awfully "rude awakening" when he realizes that Shiver and Plum had been right about Sunset being a fraud. And now it was too late to back out of working for Sunset. He had to continue. (The author's didn't elaborate, but it was assumed that Ghost would become the next victim if he didn't continue to work with Sunset.)

Rain meets her mother, Peony, again and they return to the Prosperhill pandas to expose Sunset for his treachery. To their dismay Sunset has already devised a plan for whenever they would turn up and declares that Rain is the panda he was warned would bring danger to the Bamboo Kingdom, exiling both of them. Rain and Peony's attempts to gloss it over are futile and they're kicked out of the camp. 

With Leaf, she's discovered the bats' roosting area, and her hope is kindled again. What if the third triplet was there? She and Dasher search for any traces of a panda when Pepper limps into the den, visibly injured on his paw. And further than that, he'd had to mar the skin of his forepaw to hide the white grip- the white grip that signifies him being Leaf's triplet. 

1000/10! Although I can't help but think there's no way that pandas would go through all that trouble haha, they're incredibly lazy in real life. I can't see them hiking up a mountain to see a Great Dragon. It was absolutely AMAZING though- equal to the quality of Warriors, their long-running series.