Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Ash Mistry Adventures by Sarwat Chadda


The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda arrived in my Junior Library Guild subscription sometime during the 2012-2013 school year. It looked interesting to me but I didn't have the time to read it then so I shelved it and there it sat. When book 2, The City of Death, released and it arrived in my subscription, I was reminded that I never got to read the first. Coincidentally, a student came in asking for an adventure book so I showed him The Savage Fortress. In a few days, he came back asking if there was a second book. He also brought a friend who wanted the book he was returning. And so it the book began a brisk circulation. The student also told me that I should read them. I always try to read the books students recommend to me. Since the books were always out, I ordered the audio from my amazing library cooperative and listened in the car.

Both books are productions of Listening Library and narrated by Bruce Mann, a new narrator to me. Wowzers! Why had I not heard more about these enthralling books? I'm embarrassed to admit that I missed the starred review in SLJ.  I digress.

Ash Mistry is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed nerd who freely admits he's a bit pudgy, soft around the edges and bully bait. He doesn't care all that much. He has his gaming mates and is enjoying his crush on Gemma. He and his sister, Lucky are spending the summer holidays with their aunt and uncle in India. He loves his uncle, who sacrificed much for his father, but the oppressive heat and relative lack of technology is making Ash pine for London. 

When his uncle is hired by the rich and powerful Lord Savage to translate some ancient parchment for a million dollars, Ash is happy for his uncle. But then he inadvertently overhears something ominous and realizes that Lord Savage's intimidating henchman is really a demon. Later, he accidentally stumbles upon the very item Lord Savage is seeking - the Kali aastra. Lord Savage wants to use it to awaken Ravana, who will rule the world and destroy the humans. 

There's plenty of death and destruction thanks to Lord Savage and his rakshassas. It's pretty gruesome actually. Action, danger, suspense, betrayal, beating hearts ripped from chests. It appears that Indian mythology is not for the faint of heart. This will definitely appeal to Riordan fans and I hope the books inspire requests for Indian mythology.

Ash is an intelligent kid with a good heart and a sense of loyalty. He understands the sacrifices his uncle made and loves his sister dearly, but they both can get on his nerves. And he's not so keen on this super-hero business.

The Savage Fortress ends nicely with a hint of a sequel. The City of Death has a twist at the end that has left my students (and me) panting for the next book. The third book, The World of Darkness is already out in paperback in the UK. When I found nothing here about a U.S. release, I queried the publisher and was given this response, "There are no firm plans for the third book yet." Ack! That just cannot be! I may have to make a transAtlantic purchase.

The audiobooks are spectacular. Mann employs an arsenal of accents and maintains a good pace. I highly recommend adding them to your collection along with the books.
Visit the series website for more information. It's a gorgeously designed site and explains the gods and monsters in a bit more detail. The covers shown are the British covers. 

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