A middle-grade fantasy novel continues the story of a young inventor and his hidden golden hometown of Chelldrah-ham.
After the events of the previous book (Stig’s Flight of Encounters, 2014), Stig returns to Chelldrah-ham with tales of the lands beyond: the sentient wooden pods that produce healing “corms,” the corrupted race of creatures called the Bach, the flower-wearing folk of the forest of Polandrea. The city’s Elders have debriefed him thoroughly about the Bach threat as well as the strange substance called “usty metal.” Stig’s instincts tell him they’re hiding something, so he keeps his newly developed empathic abilities secret, though he frequently communicates in dreams with Meg, the Polandrean girl he fell for on his journey. Alarmed when she falls silent, he gains permission to visit her, setting out with his best friend, Arn, one of the city’s doughty Guards of Old. They are shocked when they retrace Stig’s steps, visiting the homes of friends he made—and discover only devastation, the aftermath of fierce battles with the Bach. And when they finally reach Meg’s homeland, they discover that she’s missing, on a mission to rescue her brother, one of many Polandreans kidnapped by the Bach for nefarious purposes. Soon, Stig learns that the Bach are under the influence of a woman named Anet, who came through a rift from a place called Earth, “not on this planet, but also not off it.” Anet starts to breed bigger, more evil Bach with the help of a poison called Chaos; she plans to unleash her army and take over both worlds. Can Stig and his friends stop her before it’s too late? While the first book in the Chelldrah-ham series suffered from a surfeit of exposition, the background details pay off in this fast-paced sequel. Von Clinkerhoffen blends imaginative flora (like the fluid-filled flowers used as canteens) and fauna (Stig’s pets Noname, a plimph, and Jess, a fledgling bird of prey called a jeswit) with the hero’s love of machinery and problem-solving skills. The narrative chronicles Stig’s experiments with various contraptions, including a plane (he “pushed the motor lever forward to ‘Go.’ The motor whirred, the plane started to make a wooooooo sound, and a wind started to blow from the rear of the fuselage. It bounced slowly and then started shaking violently”).
An engaging book for kids, with a particular interest for the budding mechanic.