Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness, by Nahoko Uehashi. 2010 Batchelder Honor Book. OK, this book wasn’t so depressing, although it is serious. Balsa is back, and she heads to her native Kanbal hoping to lay rest her personal demons of guilt regarding her foster father Jiguro and her past. What she finds is a brain-pretzel of a political plot involving Jiguro, and the stories spread to discredit him. Balsa quickly discovers that not only is her life in danger, but the whole of Kanbal is in jeopardy. In this story, the reader finds out more about Balsa’s past and her family. Balsa is a wonderful heroine — tough, smart and human. The book is rounded out nicely by several secondary characters, including Kassa, a young spear-holder whom Balsa rescues early on, along with his sister. The details in this world are wonderful — the history, the lands and the personalities there, the different people and creatures. The who’s who at the end, along with the definition of the terms used, helps.