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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?
I received a digital copy of this book from Mango and Marigold Press.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In the same category as Percy Jackson, Aru Shah, and so many other amazing books and series under the Rick Riordan Imprint umbrella, Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is an incredible story bringing to life culture, traditions, and experiences of a main character through the course of a fantastic journey.
There were several themes throughout the book that I loved:
1. The author created a truly believable 12-year-old girl. In my reading career, often an author will glamorize the main character and write them as “mature for their age” or “not your average [insert age] student,” etc.
Payal Doshi has done an amazing job writing Rea in a way that reminds me of being 12-years-old myself. She loves her family, but also doesn’t understand why they do the things they do. She says she doesn’t care that her brother would rather spend time with his friends than with her, but secretly feels hurt and left behind when he does. She doesn’t think it’s fair that she has to help her mother out when her brother’s chores are much less strenuous. That balance between still somewhat a child, almost a teen, learning life isn’t fair, but having hope for the future is brilliantly struck in this book and I thoroughly loved watching Rea grow.
2. The idea and definition of friendship are questioned in a way that I really enjoyed. In the beginning of the story, Rea doesn’t really think she has anyone she would consider a friend. Her plucky sidekick opens her eyes to the value and benefit of opening up yourself to someone and their support.
3. Set in India (and Astranthia), the author used the correct words for items and didn’t bend over backwards to make sure the reader got the Anglicized definition. This book would be a great tool for parents or teachers who are working with their middle-grade reader on reading from context, as well as learning the vocabulary of a potentially new culture.
I highly recommend this book.
The Final Verdict
My rating: 5 stars
Would I recommend? Yes