By Author / Illustrator
Nosy Crow Ltd
Paperback / softback
As the island's new Weather witch, Storm must sail with the fleet into dangerous waters. The Drowned Ones are out for revenge and the sea itself is treacherous. But it's Bellum Town that brings Storm her first real test. And where she learns that her magic could save her or it could be the end of everything...
Another action-packed fantasy adventure as Storm discovers just how powerful she really is! Start Storm's adventure in the brilliant, Storm Witch.
First off, if you haven't read Storm Witch, stop now and go and read that. If you have, then read on... In Under Earth, we catch up with Weather Witch Storm on the Wayfairer, having left Yanlin with the fleet following the attack on her home land by The Drowned Ones, and are thrown straight back into the action. The Drowned Ones are out for revenge but it's Bellum Town that brings Storm her first real test, where she learns that her magic could save her or it could be the end of everything...
Stunning world building, strong characters and an engrossing plot combine to create a story you just can't put down. Bellum Town could not be further in style from Yanlin where Storm grew up. The fashions, bustling streets filled with stalls and entertainers, and its way of life are eye opening and enticing to a young girl who has had to give up her sex to maintain The Balance when she was chosen as a weather witch.
The leader of The Pact, Talon, is unnervingly cunning in his political ambition and will stop at nothing to get what he wants from Storm, while she finds herself fighting for her life as the Salamander dogs her every move. Wondering whether she has any friends in this foreign land, Storm opens her eyes to the society around her and has no idea how her magic can change things for the better.
Multi-layered storytelling means there is much to think about beyond the story regarding society, power, belief and how our choices affect others.
246 pages / Reviewed by Nicola Cleveland, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+
Storm is slowly growing into her role as the Weather Witch for her people - the island folk of Yanlin - when she is set a new challenge. Sent on a diplomatic mission to the vibrant and exciting trade centre of Bellum Island, Storm finds a land of lavish opulence, temptation and political machinations. While on the island, Storm not only explores her connection with Tortoise the Earth Elemental, she is befriended by a cling-monkey, fought over by leaders that want her powers, and hunted by an Elemental spirit that wants her dead.
Under Earth is the second installment in the Storm Witch Quartet, an exciting fantasy adventure series filled with magic, mystery, monkeys, mistrust and political intrigue. As with the first book, there is plenty of nuance with the characters and situations in Under Earth, which makes Storm's temptation at the offers of The Pact (the leaders of Bellum Island) believable.
Renner's world-building continues to impress - while Book 1 was confined to Yanlin (and the surrounding sea), we get a sense of the wider world in Book 2 in a way that felt natural, not full of unnecessary exposition. And Storm herself continues to grow, develop and mature as a character, as she struggles to get to grips with her strengths and limitations - both magical and mundane.
This would definitely appeal to fans of fantasy adventures. I already have a couple of students who have read the first book and have been badgering me for book 2 for months! I said of the first book that it felt like the start of a story, rather than a stand-alone. Under Earth feels even more like a part of a larger story - a stepping stone from Book 1 to Book 3 (The Drowned Ones, coming soonish!). So I wouldn't recommend reading these books in isolation, but as a series they are fantastic.
246 pages / Reviewed by Dan Katz, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+