Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda

Plans are afoot – I’m planning on trying to make my blog more dyslexia-friendly (since I will eventually be getting round to reviewing dyslexic-aimed books), as well as trying to get some regular features going. That and I’m turning over in my head whether I can fit in joining some challenges too – I’ll chuck it all on here when I’ve sorted myself out, anyone who happens to be interested (or indeed, reading this blog at all :p )
But enough babble, on with the review!
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780007447329
Published: 1/3/2012
Ash hates India. He loves his aunt and uncle, but so far into his holiday everything about India irritates him. However, when his uncle is employed by the sinister Lord Savage to translate an ancient unearthed map, Ash soon finds himself embroiled with demons, Gods, Goddesses and a lost civilisation that disappeared overnight thousands of years ago.
His uncle and aunt are soon bumped off by Savage for refusing to comply with his demands and Ash and his younger sister Lucky are forced to go on the run. Taken in by a mysterious but powerful old man, Ash soon learns how to try to defend himself against the demons that are still hunting him and his sister. Along the way he also learns that there is an epic battle about to occur as Lord Savage puts his plan to revive the King of the Demons, Ravana, and Ash (thanks to a fortuitous find earlier in the book on his uncle’s excavation site) is now destined to stop him. Meanwhile Kali, the Goddess of Death, lurks along the peripherals of the story, ominously watching over our young hero…
It’s a book definitely aimed at older primary school children as sometimes it can be a little gory or violent (cue Ash walking through a demon. Yes, through.). That said though, it could appeal easily to both boys and girls, especially if they’re fans of Percy Jackson or Skulduggery Pleasant. It’s easy to get drawn into the action and even I could follow the fight scenes and picture them clearly in my head, despite usually finding that really difficult to do.
Chadda is particularly good at bringing India and it’s culture to life. I know nothing whatsoever of Indian mythology and legend but I really wanted to after I put the book down.  I could really see the streets of Varanasi as he described it, could really feel as if I was Ash as he caught a glimpse of Kali’s statue, or fell into an excavated trench. Kali is particularly menacing, despite not being the villain per se in the book. Chadda’s version of Kali is creepily malevolent and it’s made quite clear how much she enjoys watching the whole plot unfold. I have an image of her in my head; grinning like the Cheshire Cat met the Joker, sly and utterly apathetic as to whether it’s the good side or the bad that’s winning at any particular moment, so long as she gets her fun. SUCH an awesome character (Goddess?) to have in a novel and I really do look forward to seeing more of her in the next in the series.

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