In the third book of the middle-grade Chelldrah-Ham series, von Clinkerhoffen (The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham: War of Chaos, 2015, etc.) brings its protagonists to a different world: Earth.
After following the evil human Anet through a rift to her home planet, Stig and Meg (aliens known as Manna) are astonished by their new surroundings. Earth is populated by giants who talk into mysterious black boxes, drive “strange enclosed carts,” and arm themselves with “fire sticks.” Although the two Manna are invisible to most humans, it’s not long before they find themselves hunted by “smelly copters” in the sky and police officers on land. As they try to shake their pursuers, they steal from a bar, scare people in a church, and accidentally wreak havoc on the English countryside in misadventures that include vehicular crashes and explosions. In between, they follow a series of obscure clues leading to an ancient, golden temple underground, which guards the entrance to their homeworld. With the help of allies, both human and Manna, they try to defeat Anet before she unleashes an army of mutant creatures on the Manna and plunders their city’s gold. Nothing breathes new life into a series like a change in setting, and von Clinkerhoffen plays up the dramatic irony of the two Manna viewing the human world from the outside, with frequently humorous results. For instance, Stig and Meg refer to television as “ohnomorerepeats,” having heard humans use that phrase repeatedly. By now, the author’s habit of italicizing sound effects is no longer distracting; instead, the clunks and whirs merely draw attention to Stig’s mechanical obsession. As in the previous books, the Manna encounter various vehicles and machinery, and von Clinkerhoffen discusses in depth how they work, which some young readers might find tedious. Aspiring mechanics or engineers, though, will enjoy solving problems right along with Stig.
A fresh, funny adventure and the
best installment in the series so far.