Fans of Rick Riordan's books and their take on mythology will be delighted to learn that he now has an imprint that shares the works of other authors. Roshani Chokshi has taken the complex tales of Indian mythology and created a new series. This first book introduces readers to Aru Shah, whose mother runs a museum in Atlanta. When Aru lights a cursed lamp, she sets off events that could mean the end of time. And what do the gods of India give her to help prevent this? A pigeon. Yup, you read that correctly. A pigeon. Okay, she also finds out that she has a sister of sorts; they are both related by the soul rather than biologically. So Aru, her new sister Mini, and the pigeon that they nickname Boo, set out to find some celestial weapons that can defeat the fierce demon that escaped from the lamp.
Although there is plenty of danger and even some painful self-discovery in the story, there is plenty of humor to keep things from becoming too depressing. Mini is a germophobic good girl, who comes on the quest with her own epi-pen and a backpack of supplies. Aru comes empty-handed and wearing her Spider-Man pajamas. Boo comes complete with attitude and seems convinced that guiding the girls is punishment for past misdeeds. He can be found beating his head against things in frustration, calling the girls "ungrateful," or longing for the good old days when heroes came properly trained.
Many points of the story seem very similar to the Percy Jackson books. There is a claiming, where the girls need to find out which of the gods will endorse them. They receive gifts that are deceptively innocent looking, like Percy's "pen" Riptide. Their quest takes them to several spots around the country and even into the Otherworld. But these elements were borrowed by Riordan from the earlier myths, so it's all traditional really.
The amazing variety of gods, goddesses, and creatures will keep readers feeling gobsmacked - especially if they have never heard of naga, rakshasa, or devas before. And while folks have probably heard of chai if they've been to a grocery store or Starbucks, other cultural elements may have them flipping to the glossary for a quick explanation.
This is aimed at the middle grade audience, and has appropriate language and levels of violence for that group, but it can be enjoyed by readers of that age and up.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.