This is the sequel to the "Polar Bear Explorer's Club", in which the story of the witch's doll recovered in the first book is told. I like the way that this story differed from the first in something of the same vein as Empire Strikes Back differed from Star Wars. That is, it's a moodier tale with real consequences for our heroes and several other characters and monsters. And by real consequences I mean undying enmity, death, banishment, and dare I say character development. The kids are cheated, injured, betrayed, and forced to steal. They learn that conflicted would-be friends can only do so much, and that adventuring doesn't have pat endings. The main character is developing steadily into a cold-hearted ice princess and none to pleased.
Yes, things start to matter more in this book and the groundwork is clearly laid for at least one more tale with the same band of kids. Not all of the characters get equal billing in this story, and it'll be interesting to see how things work out in the next volume, which seems poised to answer a number of questions opened both in the first volume and this second.
My daughter enjoyed my reading this to her, which is good because I'm doing so to keep her English up. The book's got a great vocabulary for such a thing, and I can also pick out expressions and turns of phrase that my girl's not been exposed to in the year that she's been away from using English every day. I don't know what the "reading level" is for this book but it's well suited for our purpose.