I've been waiting to read this book since I finished the first collection of three volumes. It completely made my day when I noticed it was free on Amazon. That being said, I thought the second volume didn't *quite* hold up to the first one.
Don't get me wrong - Alice is still an awesomely kick-ass character. But she spends a lot of this book moping (from the last quarter of the first book to the first half of the second book). I mean, I understand why she was upset, and at least it wasn't over some guy. But that's time that could have been spent going after Corrupted. Maybe that's it. There's a distinct lack of Corrupted in this book as compared to the first one.
Briar and Seth were fun, and even better when they were put together. They're pretty effective, as far as sidekicks go - they don't just quip, they're actually useful! And the introduction of sidekick #3 was a well-done modern adaptation of a fairy tale itself.
Some of the best writing in this volume is definitely when the Order of the Dragon is finally introduced, at the end of the second book. It was also nice to finally get the story behind Briar's creation, from the diaries of his creator.
Out of all three, Orphanage of Doom was definitely my favorite. I mean...just from the title, how could you say no?
So, yeah. I guess my biggest complaint about this book was the Corrupted shortage. The first three books had villains leaping at Alice left and right - each of the stories in volume two basically focused around one group of Corrupted, and that was it. The stories were all leading up to the (semi)final confrontation in the last book, but it left the volume feeling less action-packed than the first one.
As always though, I loved the collection of original fairy tales in the back. The inclusion of the Moby Dick chapter makes me wonder, though...didn't Eugene use the pen to make an incomplete copy of Moby Dick? I wonder if that had anything to do with how the magic fish story turned out. Hmmm...