4 out of 4 stars
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Belas Rift by Stephan von Clinkerhoffen is the third book in the Hidden City of Celldrah -ham fantasy series.
Belas Rift is a door between earth and the world of the Manna. Not many humans are aware of the existence of the world of the Manna, or of the rift which allows humans and Manna to cross from one world to another. One woman, a scientist called Anet, does know about the other world. She seeks to destroy it and the Manna who live there, in order to steal the gold for herself. There is no limit to her ruthlessness in attempting to achieve her goal.
This book follows Stig and Meg, two Manna, on an adventurous quest through the Belas Rift into the human world. Their goal is to stop Anet from destroying their world. They must navigate the strange world of the humans, and follow cryptic clues to uncover the secrets which will help them on their journey.
Stig and Meg are two wonderfully developed characters, who engage the reader’s sympathy from the very beginning. The hilarious descriptions of the trouble they get into while trying to navigate the strange world of the humans kept me entertained throughout the story, and the fast pace of events kept me turning pages to find out what would happen next.
I really enjoyed the description of everyday things on earth, such as cars and electricity, from the perspective of visitors from another world. I also enjoyed Stig and Meg learning by observing their new surroundings, and coming up with words like “smelly copter” which reflect an incomplete understanding while at the same time completely and accurately reflecting their experience.
One of the things I liked most about the Manna characters was their connection with nature and compassion towards animals. Something that endeared me to Stig and Meg was that they were horrified when they realized that humans eat animals and hunt them for fun. As a vegetarian myself, I laughed out loud at Stig and Meg terrifying humans who were involved in livestock farming and pheasant hunting, although I found some of the reactions of the humans unrealistic.
Although it is probably aimed at an audience of children aged 10 and older, I would recommend this book to adults and children alike who enjoy fantasy. Readers who like series such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials are likely to enjoy this book. There are a handful of illustrations, which I liked because they are colourful and engaging. They are particularly likely to appeal to the younger end of the intended audience for the book.
The story was well structured and developed, and I noticed very few errors. Therefore, I think the book has been professionally proofread and edited. I noticed that throughout the text, a lot of words like bang, screech, and splutter, which referred to sounds made by people or machines, were italicised. I found this stylistically odd, and wondered about the reason.
I have not read the first two books in this series, but that did not limit my enjoyment of this book. If the other two books are as entertaining and engaging as this one, I would love to read them as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and given its overall quality,I rate it 4 out of 4 stars.
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