Written By: Paul Ian Cross
Illustrated By: Alison Rasmussen
Series: The Engella Chronicles
Categories: children's fiction, kid's book, adventure, future, past, time travel, science fiction.
Read: 14th April, 2017
Rating: 3 / 5
Obtained: Amazon.com.au, Smashwords
Crossposted Review to: Goodreads, Amazon.com.au, Smashwords, Booklikes.
We first meet Engella in New Shanghai. The year is 2074 and she's living on the streets. She's on the run from the authorities and, when she's about to get caught, she activates a device which launches her through time. She finds herself in Scotland, the year being 1998. Annys is an elderly lady, walking her dog, Rupert. She takes Engella into her home.
Both Engella and Annys are reasonably interesting characters. There's obviously a lot of back story to either of them. However, seeing as it's a short story, it feels like a lot of details are missing or simply crammed in, without fully explaining points to the reader. For example, when Engella and Annys meet. Annys simply accepts Engella into her home and they have an in-depth conversation. This would be a fantastic opportunity to introduce us further to either character. However, the author skims over the events and it feels like it was kind of a wasted opportunity. The same can be said of the rest of the story. The setting and scenes, for example; I don't think we get a reasonable explanation as to why either Engella is being chased by the authorities. It's also a bit mystifying as to why she has some sort of time device; I think they ought to go to highly trained people and not teenagers. Especially considering the effects of time and how it might change future periods if someone were to change the past. However, I suppose a lot of that might be a bit too complex for a kid's book.
Another thing I've been considering is that there's nothing really special (for lack of a better word) about either time area. We visit both New Shanghai or Scotland in the book, but I don't feel like there's much to take in at either location. We don't get to take in much scenery and the author doesn't give much explanation about the qualities of either place. I feel like this is difficult to explain. Think about if you were to travel to appear in a random city, in any time period, and find yourself in an alleyway. What year is it and what city are you in? Can you tell this from your surroundings? It wouldn't always be likely. The same if you were to appear on some random beach; you mightn't be able to tell the year you are in. I feel like this is where the time travel aspects fall short. In both these cases, we know we're in a certain place and in a certain year. However, if we weren't told such things, it mightn't be obvious. If the author skipped telling us the date and place, it could even be the same year, in the same city (possibly connected to a beach), where Engella comes across a Scottish person.
The illustrations are by Alison Rasmussen and very well done. They're very detailed and obviously took a lot of effort on her part. The first is the cover image and I like the delicate colours. I also like the simplicity. The second is of a cat; it's my favourite of the drawings as it's very adorable. A third is of Engella and a fourth image is of Rupert, the dog.
It's a fairly original book, but I think we miss out on a lot of the important back-story and details. It has a great premise. I think it would get a lot of kids interested in time travel and science fiction. It's a short story of only ~3,700 words. However, it ends sort of abruptly and will be continued in the autumn of 2017. I don't think I would necessarily buy the next story in the series; it's just a bit too short and doesn't have a proper conclusion. Plus, I would likely then need to pay for the story after if it also has a cliff-hanger ending. I might consider purchasing it if it were novel length.
I obtained free copies of this book from Smashwords and Amazon.com.au. This is an honest review.
You can get your own copy of the book from these sites (as of right now, 14/04/2017): Amazon.com, Amazon.com.au, Smashwords, PaulIanCross.co.uk (the author's website).
However, please be aware that this is likely for a limited time. Please double check the price before purchasing!