[reviews]

“A must-read for fans of the first book, but…stands completely on its own.”
School Library Journal

“Marvellous, marvel-filled…Beautifully written and utterly entrancing.”
The Independent on Sunday

“The Himalayan setting is thrilling, and the second half of the novel speeds up with breathless action and some truly surprising revelations. The realistic scenes between Alexander and his acerbic, loving grandma are the best part of the book.”
—Hazel Rochman, Booklist

“Fans of Allende’s action fantasy City of the Beasts will be eager to sink their teeth into this equally tantalizing sequel. If the first book focused on environmental themes, this one takes on a strong spiritual flavor. Here Alexander (who has just turned 16) and his journalist grandmother, Kate, are off to the Himalayas accompanied by Brazilian native Nadia Santos (Eagle), whom they met during their excursion to the Amazon in the previous novel. Their mission is to find out about the Forbidden Kingdom, a remote mountain country that holds the invaluable Golden Dragon, a jewel-encrusted statue with magical powers. Alex and his companions are welcomed into the Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, a place where greed, hostility and crime do not exist. While they are becoming acquainted with the benevolent king, a master thief and crew of evil ‘Blue Warriors’ carry out a scheme to steal the precious statue and kidnap the king along with some young women of the village. Before long, Alexander finds himself once again tangled up in a dangerous quest as he sets off to retrieve the Golden Dragon and save the lives of the hostages. As the author promotes ideals of compassion, forgiveness and asceticism, she expertly blends all the ingredients of a great epic adventure. Her complex heroes, suspenseful tests of courage and the mystic aura that surrounds the story add depth and excitement to a classic battle of good versus evil.”
Publishers Weekly

“In this continuation from City of the Beasts, Alexander and his grandmother Kate Cold return, along with Nadia Santos, the young Brazilian whom Alexander met in the Amazon in the previous adventure.

Kate is not a typical grandmother; as a rugged writer for International Geographic, she has no patience for warm and fuzzy relations with her 16-year-old grandson. They are traveling to a place known as the Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, high in the Himalayas, to report on the unusual land. It is a place untarnished by the disposable values of the modern world; it is governed by a humble king who considers ecology his greatest national priority. He has a son, Dil Bahadur, who is traveling with a monk (Tensing) to learn the secret language of the Golden Dragon, a statue that prophesies the future.
Within the first few chapters, Allende creates a whole world filled with Yeti snowmen, totemic alter egos, a Collector, a Specialist and a mysterious American named Tex Armadillo. Allende’s lush writing lights up the book, letting her imagination drench every page with color. Consider this passage describing their entrance into New Delhi:

‘A human mass of dark skin, delicate features, and enormous black eyes swirled around them. Alexander was accustomed to a minimum of twenty inches of private space, a custom in his country. He felt as if he were being attacked. He could barely breathe…The sweating and patient masses contributed to the chaos. A holy man with long hair tangled to his heels, completely naked and followed by a half-dozen women tossing flower petals at him, crossed the street at a turtle’s pace, and no one even turned to look at him. Evidently he was a familiar sight.’

The characters Allende introduced in City of the Beasts do not deepen much through their adventures in this book, but her prose carries the story forward. Imagining this utopian land and animating Buddhist beliefs is clearly fun for Allende, and her joy translates onto the page. It is also worth noting that Allende describes the grotesque with as much (or more) vigor as the merely beautiful, which is a good way to ensure that readers of all ages will pay attention. She does especially nasty work with Grr-ympr, the ruler of the Yeti snowmen; everyone likes a good, gross monster.”
—Reyhan Harmanci, San Francisco Chronicle


 “Buddhist monk Tensing and his disciple, Prince Dil Bahadur, are journeying through the Himalayan peaks in search of healing plants when they come face to face with a tribe of once-fierce Yetis. These legendary half-human, half-ape monsters inhabit a lush valley heated by thermal pools and hot springs and are unaware that it’s the toxic minerals in the water that has weakened them and slowed their rate of reproduction. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Alexander Cold; his intrepid writer/explorer grandmother, Kate; and his soul mate, Nadia Santos, daughter of the guide who led Kate and Alex on their previous expedition into the South American rain forest, described in City of the Beasts (HarperCollins, 2002), are off on a new International Geographic expedition. They are headed for the Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, a small, isolated sovereignty in the Himalayas. Criminals are on the same flight; they intend to steal the Golden Dragon, the fabulous jewel-encrusted statue that is both a symbol and a guide for the country, and to abduct its king to interpret the statue’s oracular predictions. All of these characters are about to come together in another breathtaking Indiana Jones-style adventure. When Nadia is one of a group of young girls kidnapped by mercenaries, Tensing, Dil Bahadur, and even the Yetis become involved in the rescue. Allende combines empathetic young characters; exciting adventures; and an intelligent, sympathetic look at cultures, customs, and creatures of a remote and fairly unknown area. This is a must-read for fans of the first book, but it stands completely on its own. The biggest question readers are left with at the end is simply, where will these three go next.”
—Susan L. Rogers, School Library Journal