4 out of 4 stars
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Bela's Rift is the next installment in the delightful children’s series, The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham by Stephen von Clinkerhoffen. At the beginning of the tale, the reader catches-up with the protagonists, manna Stig and Meg, as they are chased through a rift by the human Anet. In this fictional universe, "rifts" are openings between worlds that creatures may pass through freely. Upon breaking through Bela’s Rift, Stig and Meg find themselves thrust into modern-day England. Adventure abounds as the courageous pair navigates their new, and at times formidable, surroundings. Fortunately, they meet new friends that can help them along their way and lead them to uncover the truth about their role in a conflict that is much larger than they ever anticipated.
I gave Bela’s Rift 4 out of 4 stars because it is a well-written and thoughtful piece of children’s literature. The language is easy to read, but the story is not at all juvenile. The novel is packed with action that keeps the reader on the edge of his or her seat and comedy that will bring a chuckle to even the most staunch reader’s face. I appreciate that though the main characters are a young male and female, romance does not play a significant role in the plot. In fact, it is only subtly implied that Meg and Stig may think of each other as a little more than friends. Between the chase scenes, von Clinkerhoffen manages to weave in important dialogue regarding environmentalism, the dangers of corruption, and the value of living peacefully with those that are different from us.
In addition to the text, von Clinkerhoffen has included a series of artful illustrations. Bela’s Rift is by no means a picture book, but these gorgeous, colorful prints add a splash of color to the text and spark the imagination.
As an adult reader, I found the novel a bit tedious to read. A large portion of the text is comprised of action sequences and descriptive passages that do not move the plot forward. It is not until the last quarter or so of the book that the author begins to develop the text. I also found it somewhat lacking in background information. For example, as a new reader of the series, I was never entirely certain what type of creatures Meg and Stig are. Are they from another planet? Another dimension? What did they look like? What role did Anet play in the hunt for Meg and Stig when they were in our world?
I would recommend Bela’s Rift for any emerging reader with a taste for sci-fi and fantasy. As always, I recommend reading the series in the order in which it was intended to be read.
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