I wouldn’t have known this if I had not noticed the back of the book, but apparently Lumberjanes: The Shape of Friendship is the sequel to The Infernal Compass. There is very little in the story to show the two are actually connected in any other way than featuring the same general setting and cast of characters. I actually like the ideas introduced to the Lumberjane universe in The Infernal Compass, and I’m a little sad that those elements got no more development; I hope that plot thread doesn’t get totally dropped. The general story in The Shape of Friendship is pretty standard if you follow this series or even anything like it (MLP: FiM comes to mind). The girls sneak out into the woods, meet something supernatural (in this case a group of Pookas) and trouble ensues. It turns out Pookas are shape-shifters, and you can likely guess what happens from there. There’s a briefly suggested sub-plot with new characters Margaret and Roger but very little development there.
Even the lesson about friendship gets kind of boring since that too is getting predictable: one of the sets in the larger group is going to have a minor misunderstanding that gets worse until they finally talk it over and things turn out fine. In this case it’s Jo and April. What saves things in terms of the boring department is that Jo hasn’t gotten as much character attention or background as the rest, and you do learn a thing or two about her that I hadn’t seen coming.
Honestly, the best two things about this installment was the epilogue with Jen which shows a moment she totally deserves and has been after practically the whole series, and the promotional excerpt from another series by the same press. I think I might actually chase down The Avant-Guards because the premise sounds like fun, something sort of like a female-based version of Fence (which I am greatly enjoying thus far) if Fence were set in a parody of an art college and featured basketball players.