fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsArtemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin ColferThe Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer

The first installment in the ARTEMIS FOWL series ended with a dire note from a fairy psychologist, explaining that Fowl would go on to become “the People’s most feared enemy” over the course of “decades.” However, already foreseeing the sequel (if conspicuously not planning for the legion of follow-up novels past that point in which Artemis is about as villainous and feared as Minnie Mouse), author Eoin Colfer also slipped in a little tease about a certain occasion in which all the favorite protagonists and antagonists from book one were forced to work together. A year and a month later, what should appear but just such a story in the form of Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident?

Having used fairy magic to cure Mrs. Fowl at the end of book one, Artemis is plotting to rescue parent number two, who he insists is alive somewhere after his boat went down halfway around the world. Artemis is apparently operating on Pippi Longstocking logic there, and as in Pippi’s case, it completely pays off. All his fantasies are revealed to be entirely accurate, Artemis Fowl Senior is being held by Russian mobsters, and Artemis must stage a rescue in a limited time-frame. The same time-frame, naturally, during which Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon unit, Artemis’s erstwhile captive, must grudgingly seek his help. The usual “enemy of my enemy” tropes fly around, and we get lots of entertaining acts of derring-do as the uneasy allies save the world. And fight Russian mobsters, when they get the time.

To be frank, if you liked book one, you’ll probably enjoy The Arctic Incident. It’s pretty much just more of the same stuff, albeit with a villain who is far more obviously intended as the butt of laughs. In fact, if The Arctic Incident has a bit of a problem, it’s that it already feels as though it’s settling into an inoffensive comfort zone. The first book was funny but just a little dark as well, edgy enough to get us wondering what would happen next. In the sequel, the slapstick is played up and the main opponent turns from a slightly cheesy, Connery-era Bond villain to an incredibly cheesy, Brosnan-era Bond villain. It’s still cute and lively, but it’s not quite so fresh or gripping anymore.

Not much else to say on this one. It’s a witty, easygoing little novel, pogo-sticking from one goofy caper to the next. The predecessor was probably a bit better done, but apart from feeling a bit safer and more pedestrian, book two doesn’t drop the ball too badly. It’s a good diversion, and it’s got the requisite number of fart jokes (there’s your cover quote, publishers).

Artemis is at boarding school in Ireland when he suddenly receives an urgent video e-mail from Russia. In it is a plea from his father, who has been kidnapped by the Russian Mafiya. As Artemis rushes to his rescue, he is stopped by Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon fairy police. But this time, instead of battling the fairies, he is going to have to join forces with them if he wants to save one of the few people in the world he loves.

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  • Tim Scheidler

    TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.