Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Number of Pages: 464
Published: February 19th, 2019
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Opening Line: "Big Ben Loving gazed across the frozen bog and checked his compass."
Publishers Description: Keech Blackwood and his band of fellow orphans demand justice for their fallen families. But the road to retribution is a long and hard-fought journey.
After defeating Bad Whiskey Nelson, the man who burned Keech’s home to the ground, the Lost Causes have a new mission: find Bonfire Crossing, the mysterious land that holds clues to the whereabouts of the all-powerful Char Stone. Along the way, they’ll have to fend off a shapeshifting beast, a swarm of river monsters, and a fearsome desperado named Big Ben Loving who conjures tornadoes out of thin air. It’s an epic standoff between the Lost Causes and the outlaw Reverend Rose, a powerful sorcerer who would be unstoppable with the Stone in his possession.
With the world—and vengeance—hanging in the balance, the Lost Causes are ready for battle."
The Fang of Bonfire Crossing takes up shortly after the events in the last book. The Lost Causes, made up of Keech, John Wesley, Nat, Duck, and Cutter were disheartened to learn the Char Stone had been stolen by the Enforcer, Red Jeffreys. They continued to follow Pa Abner's clues to head west and were making their way through Kansas in search of the bending trees Pa had mentioned. Along the way, they found an abandoned campsite and tracks, unlike any animals they've ever seen before. Along a ravine, they then encounter a tracker, Sunrise Albert who's searching for Owen AKA Quinn, a boy who escaped from a slaver named Friendly Williams. After managing to scare the tracker off, Keech and his crew continue on their way looking to find shelter from an oncoming storm. Despite running low on supplies, they're determined to find the location of the Bonfire Crossing and prevent Reverend Rose and his gang from acquiring the Char Stone.
As with the first book, I really enjoyed the action and adventuring of this sequel. I would suggest starting with the Legends of the Lost Causes otherwise you'll miss out on how the Lost Causes were formed, lots of the early action, plot, and character development that carries over into the sequel. Keech and his friends suffered some devastating losses in The Fang of Bonfire Crossing. At one time or another, each one of them tries to put on a brave front, to persevere but the team is really starting to feel the strain of dealing with Rose's men. Some of the newest challenges sent by Reverend Rose are Friendly Williams, a "Chamelia" or shifter that is hunting them, Big Ben Loving and a man named Coward who has the ability to smell out people's secrets. The zombie-like thralls from the first book can't compare to the attacks they suffer by the bloodthirsty shifter or even the army of slimy marsh creatures. Seriously, at one point I was even questioning whether or not they were going to break apart and go their separate ways. Somehow, despite the losses, setbacks, and deceptions, the Lost Causes come together stronger and more tightly knit, even welcoming Quinn into their fold.
Another huge part of the fun with these adventures is discovering what kind of magical forces the Lost Causes will face. Reverend Rose continues to wield his power from afar, using his minions to carry out his orders. Feeding them "prime" or the power that allows them to wield their magical enhancements. His crows continue to circle above, spying on the Lost Causes, reporting their every move. However, this time around there's a Texas Ranger who has magical powers that he uses to cloak Keech and his friend's movements. This especially comes in handy as they set out on a rescue mission in a town that is almost as impenetrable as a fortress. Ultimately they've been deceived and instead have walked into a trap. Luckily the Lost Causes have grit, ingenuity, and the ability to think quickly when faced with danger. Keech continues to be a valuable member because of the unique teachings or lessons that Pa Abner taught him that help them get out of some of their most difficult situations. I've grown quite fond of all of the characters and the bond that they share, but Duck is starting to become one of my favorites. The Fang of Bonefire Crossing is a wonderful sequel, with many intense moments of danger, action, and will certainly not disappoint any western loving adventurer. I'm really curious about how the story will resolve and am imagining an epic showdown between Keech and the elusive Reverend Rose. Can't wait to read The Key of Skeleton Peak soon.
**A huge thank you to the Henry Holt & Company for the review copy. **