The Affair of Peoh

The Affair of Peoh is the second book published by Aileen Morris.  It is also the second book in The Peoh Trilogy, to which she has devoted much of the last four years of her life.  It was due out in March, but editing problems pushed the date back to April.

“I’m glad it’s finally out,” says Aileen.  “I’m sure my readers are all looking forward to continuing the story of Dorothy, Freddie, and all their friends and enemies.”

In this book, which picks up right after the last one left off, Dorothy Everglade and Freddie Verbena find themselves obliged to keep up the facade of a romance in order to placate Peoh’s stern leader, the Sunshine, who knows the burgeoning rebellion wants Dorothy’s actions to set an example of fiery resistance for the rest of the country.  Seeing his point, and taking pride in doing even a distasteful job to the best of her abilities, Dorothy sets about trying to convince everyone – including her protective mother, prudish cousin, and jealous friend Jerry – that her actions regarding the Flying House (at the end of The Darkness of Peoh) were taken because she couldn’t stand the idea of living without Freddie.  Freddie himself, meanwhile, submits to her affected “love” with good grace and behaves as though he returns it while in public, but Dorothy suspects that he may not be entirely pleased with the deception.  Meanwhile, Dorothy’s efforts to convince Frida Wood that the latter is mistreating her own boyfriend have surprisingly positive results.  Yet trouble looms when Bella Martin shows an evident desire to punish Dorothy for the death of her mother – and even Dorothy’s best efforts aren’t enough to stop the rebels from launching a bombing raid on Emeraldia.

Even more so than the first book, The Affair of Peoh subverts and challenges common teen fiction clichés.  As in the first book, Dorothy is not the sole narrator; many scenes are in fact told from Frida Wood’s point of view, and others by a few of the other characters.  Perhaps even more notably, instead of a full-fledged “love triangle” a la The Hunger Games, Dorothy’s and Freddie’s real feelings for each other are still kept ambiguous; while Freddie’s “rival,” Jerry Vincent, is given little more than a scene that might or might not be an attempted rape on Dorothy, followed by a trial at which she refuses to say anything in his defense.  (Jerry is later shown to have escaped jail and joined the increasingly violent rebels.)  Once again, all real romantic scenes occur between the secondary characters of Frida and Brian – whose story in itself subverts a common cliché, by having a couple in a fracturing relationship actually take the time and effort to repair their bonds, rather than simply splitting up.

At 246 pages, it is shorter than the last book (which was around 360 pages).  Aileen knows that often books get longer as a series goes on (witness Harry Potter), but doesn’t care.  “As far as I was concerned,” she says, “each of the books had to be the length that was needed to tell the story.  No shorter, and no longer.  The Darkness of Peoh is the longest book in the series because it had to establish all the characters, their background, and the setting.  With The Affair, that was all done already, so I could just get on with the plot.”

Without giving too much away, the ending of this book will have readers impatiently waiting on the edge of their seats for the third one to come out!