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Bella Santini in the Land of Everlasting Change
by Angela Legh
Waterside Productions (2021, 176 pp.)

“Most humans are unaware of their innate magical abilities,” explains one knowing young fairy in this enchanting adventure story for middle school readers. “I have heard that so much of the pain that exists on Earth would disappear if humans simply changed their perspective.”

On a camping trip with her parents, a young teenager is awakened in the night by a tinkling noise and the beguiling moving glow of a firefly. She leaves her tent to follow the darting path of the firefly and finds herself in the middle of moonlit meadow where there are thousands of dancing fireflies. But they are not fireflies, she sees, pinching herself, but tiny fairies, with iridescent wings! Once they spot her, the fairies panic. She is seized, enrapt by a spell and transported to the Seelie Court in the Land of Everlasting Change for questioning.

Thus begins 14-year-old Bella Santini’s trials in a parallel universe, where feelings matter more than reasoning, and trust becomes the way to overcome frustration and fear. While she hasn’t done anything wrong, the fairies in Queen Tatiana’s court are suspicious of the human girl: something has upset their magical queendom and someone has mysteriously invited her in.

Who is Bella? She is given a new name, Bellisa Amatedor, to hide her human identity, and allowed to enter the prestigious Yelimoon School as an initiate, upon completion of three initiation tasks. A devilish handsome third-year student, Matteus, will be her guide and watchdog, and another new student, Shibohna Tallin, her new best friend.

Together, they help Bella, now Bellisa, fulfill her initiation process, which includes learning to fly on tender new wings (a clue: only fairies grow wings). The third task, chosen for her by a jealous bully at the school, Novaq, seems all but impossible: to produce the Chalice of Keani, which has been lost for centuries.

“You must control your mind and listen to your heart,” Matteus instructs his disbelieving charge.

It’s a classic tale of transformation and overcoming adversity through friendship, trust and love, in the template of the Harry Potter fantasy series. Author and personal development mentor Angela Legh, originally from San Francisco, now based in Taos, hopes this series for young readers “provides perspectives to help children find their way out of the darkness.” Some of the themes she explores are sibling rivalry, bullying, self-control and bigotry. There are book club questions at the back, as well as a sneak peek into the first chapter of the next volume in the series, “Bella Santini in the Troll War.”

Bella is a believably prickly character who, once spirited away by the fairies, instantly regrets being surly to her parents over the camping trip she did not want to go on. But there is so much to learn and be grateful for — and Bella is up to the challenge.