This appears to be the final installment of the May Bird series (which would officially make it a trilogy). The book takes place several years after the conclusion of the last book. May is back in Briery Swamp with her mother, who is overwhelmed with happiness and relief that her daughter has returned after her mysterious three-month disappearance.
Upon her return, May told the truth about where she was, only to be humiliated when no one believed her. She was a minor celebrity for a while (hence the fad for shirts reading "May Bird went to the land of the dead and all she brought me was this lousy t-shirt"). Even her mother doesn't believe her, and after several failed attempts to find out what "really" happened during those months, they have an unspoken agreement not to discuss it; instead, they make cookies together and enjoy each other's company.
May is now thirteen, and with the passing of the years she has become less enchanted with exploring the woods around her house and building innovative devices and odd inventions. Now, as with many young teens, it seems more important to try, somehow, to fit in. Pumpkin, Lucius, and her other friends from the Ever After all seem distant and unreal, as if they happened to someone else, long ago, in a dream. The lake that had been a portal into the Ever After is now dried up, and even though at times May wishes she could go back, she has no idea how she could possibly get there.
Then she gets a strange phone call - could it be Pumpkin's voice on the other end? Telling her that she must come back, that they desperately need her? Suddenly May and Somber Kitty (and he is as delightful a character as ever) find themselves back in the Ever After, and this time she is determined not to run away; this time she must face Bo Cleevil, and this time it's not just the fate of the Ever After that's at stake. Bo Cleevil has designs on other targets that are even more precious to May.
This book had the same sort of feel to me as The Last Battle, the last of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. The characters in that book are older, too, and they've lost a bit of the optimism and sense of wonder they had when they were younger. And because of that, the book was bittersweet. I was glad that May went back to finish what she started, fulfilling her destiny as warrior princess, doing all she can even though she knows it can't possibly be enough - and the story had a satisfying, if bittersweet, ending.
Books in the May Bird Trilogy:
May Bird: Warrior Princess by Jody Lynn Anderson (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007)