PLOT: 4/5

“As Anita walked into the house with Aranika in her arms, Aranika smiled in her sleep and snuggled into her aunt’s arms, oblivious to the world and the eyes of the enemy, oblivious to the remarkable escape she had from the lord of death, oblivious to the powers she was blessed with.”

Aparajita Bose, Aranika and the Syamantaka Jewel

My musings

It’s been a few weeks since I read a children’s book. Last year some of my favourite children’s reads included Madhumita Roy’s Bulti’s Adventures in the Dooars, Ruskin Bond’s Getting Granny’s Glasses, Deepak Dalal’s The Paradise Flycatcher, and Prabhu Vishwanathan’s Paati Goes Viral. One look at the names, and you can ascertain that most of the above are stories related to adventures.

Just like last year, this year too started on a decent note when it comes to children’s fiction. This is because the very first book I read turned out to be a delicious combination of fantasy, sci-fi, mythology, and adventures. Wow, what an amalgamation of genres in this one.

Read on to know more about Aparajita Bose’s Aranika and the Syamantaka Jewel.

What to expect?

Expect a book that promises a bunch load of adventure combined with mythology, fantasy, and a dash of sci-fi. Expect a middle-grade children’s read that can be easily picked up by children between the ages of 8 to 12 years. Expect a book with a girl protagonist who is as intelligent as she is brave. Expect a book that can be easily read in a day or two.

Who can read?

The language of Aranika and the Syamantaka Jewel is beginner friendly, with not many difficult words, thus the book can be picked by beginner-level readers.

The story as it goes

“Nature bows before those who are of noble heart”.

Aranika, a brilliant and accomplished young girl, grew up with her relatives after the death of her parents just after her birth. Unloved and uncared for, her sole motto in life became science, a subject she could immerse herself in for hours at a stretch.

Upon getting admission into one of the most prestigious institutes of Astronomy in the country, she meets some wonderful new people. Meanwhile, she also starts to unravel the mystery of her parent’s death. After all, it was right here at this institute that her parents studied and conducted their all-important research.

During her quest, she is also bestowed with great responsibility – that of the Syamantaka Jewel. A jewel that bestows unparalleled power to its possessor and that has the ability to change the course of human history. But Aranika is not the only one looking for it. Evil forces have been at play since the beginning of modern history, and now the wickedly powerful Iraavanan is also after the jewel.

Will Aranika uncover the truth behind her parents’ death?

Will she discover her true potential and finally do what she has been destined to achieve?

To what extent will Iraavanan go to put his evil plans into action?

The writing

The storytelling is simple, with lots of focus on adventure and mystery. There is an ample amount of clue-finding and researching that Aranika and her friend resort to solve the puzzle. This is where the reader is reminded of the legendary character of Hermione from the Harry Potter series.

In addition to the above, there are other similarities – small and big that often take one back to the Harry Potter world.

I love how the author has experimented with different genres and brought together a beautiful concoction of adventure, mystery, fantasy, mythology, and thrill. The infusion of astronomy and mythology is particularly noteworthy here, as not many authors delve into these sub-genres. This is one thing that surely makes the book stand apart from others in its category.

Aranika, as a character, is incredibly brave, and I am sure she will prove to be an inspiration to anyone who reads about her life and journey. There are some places where the characters seem to lack certain depth – not just Aranika but others too. I wish there were a few other memorable characters in the story. Apart from Aranika, no one else seems to hold your attention for long.

The simplicity of the narration is commendable, it makes for a smooth and easy-flowing read, making the overall reading experience a pleasurable one. The story starts with a bang, and it has one of those openings that gets the reader hooked right from the beginning.

I would have loved the cover to be a little more appealing.

In my humble opinion, it fails to capture the intriguing adventure that the reader takes along with Aranika on her journey.

Overall, a decent read recommended for middle-grade fantasy fiction and adventure lovers.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Aranika and the Syamantaka Jewel using the link below.