I'm rating this 5 stars. I'd really like to share my thoughts on this book (and how it relates to the first book, The Magic Warble).
We start with Kristina (the perfect heroine, in my opinion, I'll get to that later); and her bout in summer camp. She's lonely due to the fact her best friend (hamster) was left in the magical land of Bernovem. Now, if you haven't read the first book that's ok because things are filled in quite naturally. Things quickly progress and Kristina is taken back to Bernovem and another adventure starts!
This time, though, things are different. She's older, for one thing, and I really like how she was written as older in an "extreme" way. Ok, last book she was "BFFs" with Werrien (guy/good/cute/prince charming). This book she's totally crushing on him and insecure and adorable. I say "extreme" but that's what it is when you age at 13!! So, kudos to the writing for not trying to young-it-down. There was a sharp change in behavior; which, is necessary because there is a sharp change in hormones at that age! But things were written so I'd be comfy having my younger niece read this (she's 11) and we'd both enjoy it (although probably for some different reasons). Before I forget, I want to mention how much I admire Kristina. She's pretty, yet modest to the point of being insecure (as much as any girl her age is). She is subjected to bullies, and relates more to her teachers than peers. She is so brave and selfless, but she's a kid too. I think it can be a difficult thing to get right. I never forget her age-- yet I'm still impressed by her maturity. Oh, and she flings lentils at her crush with a fork.
I'm gonna say another thing about the writing...it was so much bolder. Perhaps bolder implies courageous. But, yes, courageous and just more confident. I felt things that were a bit shakey in the last book (some plot lines and transitions)-- were really excellent in this story. I mean, wow. It was the most striking thing to me. And let me be clear-- the first book, The Magic Watble was a great book! Heck, I rated it 5 stars! But, that was before I read The Black Shard and it's still a great story...but, the contrast is so stark I had to go back and change the rating to 4 (which is still a solid A).
Another thing I really want to express is continuity. It was great. This is a middle-grade novel-- the genre of which I love. In the first book, I remember writing in my review how angry I was that the two girls were such bullies to Kristina and how annoying the 3 children that were also stuck in Bernovem were! *smirks* Well, I just have to shake my head now. Because, sure enough at the end of this book I totally got it! Haha, and you know, It's not something everyone might react to--what pissed me off won't necessarily annoy the next reader..but I loved that. It was like, ok, the one thing you were kinda peeved about was planned all along so *sticks tongue out at self*
I just really enjoyed this book. I really suggest this to readers of all ages who love Narnia. The Black Shard continued to solidify the world that Simcox created in The Magic Warble. We are left wanting a third book and I am highly anticipating the next installment...by the progress of the first two books I think I'll be pleasantly surprised for a third time. ;)