Author: Roshani Chokshi
Age Range: 8+
Published: By Rick Riordan Presents on April 30th, 2019
Content Warning: N/A
Format I Read: Physical
Note: I received an ARC of the book from my book blogging friend, Jenna @ Falling Letters. Thank you so much for noticing how much I loved Aru Shah and the End of Time and sending me an ARC of the sequel all the way from Canada, Jenna!
Aru is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love’s bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn’t playing Cupid. Instead, they’re turning people into heartless fighting-machine zombies. If that weren’t bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn’t find the arrow by the next full moon, she’ll be kicked out of the Otherworld. For good. But, for better or worse, she won’t be going it alone. Along with her soul-sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they’ll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn’t at all who they expected.
The first book in this series made it to my top 10 favourites of 2018 list, so I was really looking forward to reading this one. I had insanely high expectations not only because this is written by one of my all-time favourite authors but because this is #OwnVoices for me as I grew up with Hindu mythology.
Two new characters were introduced in this book and I loved both of them! Aiden was a precious boy with an eye for photography. Brynne, on the other hand, was a strong girl in more ways than one and who had a passion for food. I liked how both the characters shared some characteristics with the heroes from mythology they were based on and yet managed to be unique in their own ways. Aru and Mini’s character arcs also showed steady progress in this book, which I loved. This group learnt to trust one another and work together over the course of the narrative and I enjoyed seeing the bonds blossoming between them. The antagonist and even the secondary characters were deftly crafted with a lot of layers and the story dug deep into their past and their motivations.
The plot was just as entertaining and compelling as the first, if not more. There was an undercurrent of mystery and they got into one impossible situation after another. I was genuinely scared for the characters during all the epic fight scenes because they had to rely not only on physical strength but their training and quick wit with a little help from magic. However, the lighter moments and laugh-out-loud banter balanced out the intense scenes. Friendship and the nature of evil were some of the prevalent themes, which were explored in a subtle yet impactful way. This book also brought in elements from the Ramayana and touched upon the misogynistic treatment some of the female characters undergo in the original myths in a respectful and nuanced manner. Overall, this was a powerful piece of storytelling that beautifully incorporated Hindu mythology into a modern setting with the most adorable main crew. I’m already dreading the long wait for the third book to come out and I can’t wait to read about the rest of the Pandavas!
If you’re looking for a mythologically retelling with diverse elements in middle grade, this is the perfect series for you! I think this series will appeal to readers of all ages because of the themes it tackles. For the music, I’d recommend some lively Carnatic music in the background with dominant violin and flute sounds. There is a lot of food mentioned in the book, so have some Indian food ready to munch on. My favourite snacks are samosas and piping hot jilebis.
Have you read the first book in the series? Do you enjoy reading middle grade books? Can you recommend more books based on Indian mythology? Let’s discuss in the comments section below.