It all begins on the night Rea turns twelve. After a big fight with her twin brother Rohan on their birthday, Rea’s life in the small village of Darjeeling, India, gets turned on its head. It’s four in the morning and Rohan is nowhere to be found.

It hasn’t even been a day and Amma acts like Rohan’s gone forever. Her grandmother, too, is behaving strangely. Unwilling to give up on her brother, Rea and her friend Leela meet Mishti Daadi, a wrinkly old fortune-teller whose powers of divination set them off on a thrilling and secret quest. In the shade of night, they portal into an otherworldly realm and travel to Astranthia, a land full of magic and whimsy. There with the help of Xeranther, an Astranthian barrow boy, and Flula, a pari, Rea battles serpent-lilies and blood-sucking banshees, encounters a butterfly-faced woman and blue lizard-men, and learns that Rohan has been captured. Rea also discovers that she is a princess with magic. Only she has no idea how to use it.

Struggling with the truth her Amma has kept hidden from her, Rea must solve clues that lead to Rohan, find a way to rescue him and save Astranthia from a potentially deadly fate. But the clock is ticking. Can she rescue Rohan, save Astranthia, and live to see it all?

Book One in The Chronicles of Astranthia

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An adventure across realms. A missing sibling. Secrets transpiring through generations and an evil queen desperate for power. This debut brings magical creatures and an otherworldly portal to a life of family, friendship, and prophecy. Thank you to Mango & Marigold Press for the opportunity to read this early!

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is a middle grade fantasy that thrills through a secret quest and explores family dynamics.

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of a hill station of Eastern India, Darjeeling, this middle grade fiction swings through love for family, friendship, and the chosen one trope. Rea has always disliked the different rules set up for her twin, Rohan, by her mother and grandma so when she comes to know about Rohan’s secret birthday plan — a midnight cricket match with his friends — she follows him uninvited. But when the next morning brings the news of a missing Rohan, Rea determinedly visits a fortune teller in the hopes of finding more about his disappearance. Along with Leela, her friend, Rea crosses a portal through a banyan tree to the fantasy land of Astranthia. The quest to free Rohan involves battling monsters, wielding magic, and bringing down the evil queen. The cool breezes of the surrounding Himalayas on this side of the portal and the world of flora wonders on the other side act as a beautiful canopy for brave and growing preteens to take risks, find hidden powers, and discover generational secrets on.

Through the peace of a wholesome home where Amma, the mother, busily works on the aromatic tea fields, and Bajai, the grandmother, cooks desi delicacies like fried banana chips or chilli onion fries or egg thukpa for the young children, the care for one another —which essentially motivates Rea to commence this journey of finding her missing twin, despite the usual sibling rivalry— easily reflects the south asian culture in major context. Slowly progressing through riddling prophecies and an undeterred fight against the dark powers of a wicked ruler, the pacing of the story could’ve been better but the essence of a young girl discovering her potential after years of having to be placed second and becoming the heroine she is destined to be, is encouraging and uplifting for the target audience. Overall, this debut does deliver in terms of adventure, relationship dynamics, and a rebellion against dictators; even if the plot could’ve been enriched with more thrill.

my rating ↣ ★★★★☆

Buy the book: Amazon US | Bookshop US | Amazon IN


S I M I L A R


One thought on “Book Review: Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi

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