Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda

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Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Ash and his sister find themselves thrust into the middle of an epic battle as the monsters and heroes, gods and demons of the Indian sub-continent struggle for supremacy over the earth.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780007447329

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Heat, colour, smell and noise assail your senses as you join Ash and Lucky in Varanasi. They have travelled from England to visit their uncle and aunt during the holidays, and despite their Asian heritage they find the atmosphere as fascinating, frustrating and thrilling as any young person brought up in west London would do. The castles and markets are intriguing, but the poverty, the constant heat, the poor roads and the dust are beginning to take their toll. The food does not agree with Lucky, and although he loves the archaeology of the region, Ash is beginning to envy his friends back home as they go swimming and indulge in day-long gaming sessions. But right from the start the culture clash carries hints of danger and mystery, until the terrifying moment when the supernatural explodes into Ash's life and changes him utterly.

With such an upbringing, it takes Ash a long time to accept what is happening to him. A near-fatal accident at a dig leads him to experience, apparently at first hand, the bloody and destructive war which, millennia ago, ended with the death and burial of the evil Ravana. But this is not the western world. Here, death is by no means the end, for heroes or villains. Demons are flocking to the area as attempts are made to bring Ravana back to life, and the story of one character, who has been reincarnated over and over to live again the same terrible destiny, is as heart-breaking as it is thrilling. You could just read this book for the excitement, the chases and dangers and horrors, but it also offers a vivid insight into a very different way of understanding the world.

This book is not for the faint of heart or the delicate of stomach. Pain and gore abound, and there are detailed descriptions of corpses and entrails which will delight many young readers. Unlike Mr Chadda's earlier books which were written for teens, this tale is destined for younger readers, but it does not pull any punches (pun intended). Death and dying are an integral part of the book from the start: Ash witnesses the tradition of casting corpses into the river, and one crucial scene takes place at a ghat, where funeral pyres smoke. And, shockingly, in this story not all the good guys survive till the end. All the while, we witness Ash, an ordinary boy whose only experience of adventure until now, has been through a gaming console or a cinema screen, living at first hand the most epic of battles, as evil men and demons try to free Ravana and end the reign of humanity over the earth.

This is a thrilling, action-packed adventure where the danger is real and immediate and the consequences of failure utterly disastrous. The setting not only adds colour and intrigue, but is absolutely integral to the story: the tales of Rama and the gods are as well-known on the Indian sub-continent as the Roman and Greek gods are in Europe. It is well-written, colourful and original, and could well do for the Hindu gods what Percy Jackson did for the Greeks and Romans.

Many thanks to HarperCollins for sending this excellent tale to Bookbag.

Fans of action stories set in other cultures – with a generous dollop of violence and deadly peril - will also enjoy Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins and its sequel, Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx.

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Buy Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda at


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