Stuffed Into Darkness by Liz Braswell
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: May 4, 2021
For anyone who didn’t see our Facebook announcement, I had to pull back on reviews in May and June due to health reasons. Things has improved and we’re back on track, albeit with me scrambling a bit to fill in the review slots I usually have lined up weeks ahead of time. Anyway, onto the…
Into Darkness is one of the first books I’ve read in a long while that is second in a series and neither explains its setup nor tries to re-introduce its cast.
And I really like it for that.
The plot jumps between two different points of view: that of the human child Clark and that of the stuffy warrior Foon. (Who I cannot stop picturing as my favorite raccoon plushie from my childhood, even though he’s not exactly described that way. The nostalgia hits hard.) The creatures of the darkness are hatching a revenge plot against Foon for his deeds in the previous book, and while Clark doesn’t know this directly, he does know there’s something unsafe out there. He also knows that his stuffies provide protection, so he and his friends bring them along to summer camp, planning to ignore any teasing that might come up. But there’s some tension between Clark and his friends, and interactions between the campers stress the friendship. This is largely the part where it’s clear these kids have a past together, and there’s still some unresolved friction from previous events. But rather than pause the action to explain everything, the story moves forward with the expectation that the reader will either catch up or do what most readers do who pick up a series in the middle–figure out that they should probably read the first book, well, first.
Meanwhile, Foon and his stuffy allies are trying to discover the source of the strange goings-on at camp. Some of the previous staff has been replaced, and stuffies seem to be confiscated with almost no reason at all. With a little creativity, they work to increase their numbers and Foon searches for a way to take the fight directly to his enemies rather than waiting for them to come to him.
Without spoiling too much, there’s a few moments where the lines between good and evil get blurred a bit, which I really appreciated. The book also has a great sense of humor. Not over the top, but you can’t ignore the level of seriousness with which the stuffed animals take their mission and the villain who takes destroying them just as seriously. There’s just a fun, adventurous vibe to the story. Definitely recommended. And, yes, for anyone who is curious, I have purchased the first book and look forward to reading it.
Rating: 4 out of 5
You can find Stuffed Into Darkness on Goodreads
You can also buy Stuffed Into Darkness (Stuffed, Book 2) on Amazon. (Affiliate link)