Two boys are accused of shoplifting. Pursued by the police, they open a strange green door set in a wall bordering a street. Instead of the wet street they have just left behind, they find themselves in a sunlit garden with a crown-shaped fountain set in the centre of a lawn. The garden is owned by Zardaka, a mysterious wizard. He says he can control time and has built himself a house which overlooks the four corners of the earth. Aided by Mista the Owl and Patch, his cat, Zardaka rules his kingdom with an iron hand. PC Higgotty, hot in pursuit, follows the boys into the garden and is turned temporarily into a snake by the wizard. Meeting up with Stella, who also has been captured, Chris and Paul find themselves literally fighting against time in order to defeat Zardaka, who plans to take over the universe.
I brought Through the Rainbow, as from the summary, it seemed reminiscent of the sort of book I liked reading as a child in the 1970s, with its themes of the magic of people from a normal background suddenly brought into contact strange and challenging new worlds. The teased elements of time-travel also attracted me, as an idea that has fascinated me from an early age. More generally, I liked the idea of a tale with magic, as it was clear this book would contain this. With its twin themes of magic and time travel, this was part-magic fantasy, part-historical drama, with engaging elements of humour as well as adventure and challenge. One particular adult, stern, an authority figure, yet bumbling and foolish at times, seemed to be set up at the start as a classic light relief character-then I ended up being surprised just what a serious role and weighty part of the story he ended up being given. I thought it was very well written, particular as I see it is the author's first book. It was very enjoyable, and I for one would read another instalment in the adventures of Chris, Paul, Stella, PC Higginbottom, Nadira and Zardaka the Magician. Parents of children between 8 to 12 could do well to get their children this if they want to encourage them to read.
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