PLOT: 3.5/5 CHARACTERS: 3.5/5 WRITING STYLE: 4/5 CLIMAX: 4/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 4/5
“Celestia – a world of pixies,
With four kingdoms that flourished.
Sprawling forests, shimmering lakes,
And rulers who were cherished.
The wane began when the great king of Emberglass,
The kingdom of Infernos in the north,
Was murdered with his wife and eldest daughter, alas,
Leaving young princess Zyra to rule forth.
No sooner had the queen ascended her throne,
That she dropped her sweet façade.
She killed, looted and pillaged,
And burnt down the cities that were in her eyes, deeply flawed.”
– Anagha Ratish, Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water
As far as fantasies are concerned, I haven’t read one in a long time. The last ones that I remember loving were the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver and The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. Like a typical book lover, I do cherish my precious collection of fantasy fiction, but unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to reading them in a long time.
Imagine my surprise when I came across a young and talented writer, of just over twelve years, who has recently come out with her debut novel. Read on to know more about Anagha Ratish’s Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water and the wonderful world of Celestia.
At the very first glance, what draws you to the book is the young author whose picture graces the back cover. If looks can be deceptive, then this picture is an ideal example. Anagha’s writing belies her age.
The blurb is also something, it catches your attention most uniquely. A simple yet detailed poem introduces the reader to the world of Celestia, and the evil queen Zyra who rules it with an iron fist.
About the cover, I’ll say it’s neither attractive nor dull. Though it symbolizes the elements of fire and water quite well, I believe it could have been made a tad more captivating.
With fire on one side and water on the other, it portrays two birds caught mid-action in a heated battle.
What to expect?
Expect a middle-grade fantasy that is easy to read and fast-paced. Expect a book that takes you into the magical world of pixies. Expect a book that is a short read.
Who can read?
The book makes use of simple yet rich language and can be easily picked up by beginner-level readers who enjoy middle-grade fantasy.
The story as it goes
Adaire is your girl next door who loves books and everything bookish. She is a voracious reader; someone who has to be pestered to give her reading a break. Her favorites are fantasies that transport her to the world of magic and acquaint her with all sorts of magical and mystical beings.
Imagine her surprise and delight when she is pulled into a magical world not much different from the ones that she regularly reads about.
Adaire, the human girl discovers her magical powers. She also comes to know of her important role in the war against the evil Queen Zyra.
But is Adaire really prepared for this war?
How will she compensate for her lack of training and experience?
Queen Zyra’s immense powers have never been defeated before. What chance does Adaire have against her?
What about the characters?
The characters are a decent bunch. Most of them have captivating personalities that leave a lasting impression on the reader.
Queen Zyra is a beautiful young princess in her mid-20s with long dark hair and a crown of gorgeous black diamonds. But her beauty belies her evil nature. Hers is the first character to be introduced and what a way to introduce a powerful character!
On the other hand, the other characters that we meet – Adaire, Faye, and Sapphire – are all kind, principled, sincere, and courageous. Despite the ever-increasing powers of Queen Zyra, they are all determined to make the most of their circumstances.
They are training to the best of their abilities, putting their best foot forward, and fighting to the death, so that their beloved Celestia can be restored to its old paradisal glory.
Adaire, our protagonist is a charming girl, sure of herself, kind and strong, soft yet courageous. One of her most endearing qualities is that just like her readers, she too is a lover of books. And who doesn’t love a nerdy and bookish protagonist?
Game changer of a character
Somewhere near the middle, the reader is introduced to a new character. I refrain from mentioning much about it for the sake of spoilers. But it is safe to say that this new character acts as a game-changer in multiple ways. Most things about her are shrouded in mystery and she remains a puzzle to the reader right till the end, where, once again, she has a significant role to play.
What an impressive beginning
I admire how the author manages to portray a vivid picture of Zyra’s beauty and her contrasting evil nature in just over 2 pages. Her menacing personality and malefic intentions, captured in the opening scene, sets the pace for a racy and adventurous journey ahead, creating intrigue and questions in the minds of the reader.
Let’s talk about the writing style
It’s not easy to pen a fantasy. In my years as a blogger, I have seen many authors failing in one crucial aspect of fantasy storytelling. They fail to convince the reader about their fantasy world and its workings. They are either too hasty in describing it or too bland in portraying it.
When it comes to fantasy, a reader needs to visualize and be thoroughly convinced about the world that she is reading. And this is exactly where Anagha Ratish makes it count! Even though everything about this new world is novel, imaginary, and unreal, through the power of her storytelling, it all becomes believable and very much real.
Not demons, not angels but pixies
I love how the book isn’t about demons, monsters, angels, or even fairies, but about pixies. Tired of the usual fairy, vampire, and werewolf realms, I believe pixies are the most under-utilized bunch of magical beings. It’s great that Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water offers us something different from the tried and tested formula. It gives pixies a befitting story to recapture a fantasy reader’s imagination.
A visible lack of plot twists
The plot of the book is quite linear and many a time this leads to monotony. Despite Adaire’s inexperience, things seem to fall in place too easily, making the storyline too convenient, unrealistic, and even hasty at times. Instead of fighting and struggling through her inadequacies, Adaire seems to fly through them, making her seem lucky rather than deserving.
What I find difficult to believe?
The part that surprises me the most is that the author of this work is just a young girl of twelve. The kind of quality and skill that she has infused in her writing surely belies her age. The editing is flawless and even the language is rich yet flowy; a feat that isn’t easily accomplished.
If this is the quality of her debut work at such a young age, I can only imagine how wonderfully her writing would evolve with time and experience. Anagha Ratish has a bright future in writing. Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water is solid proof of that.
What could have been better?
The main characters of the story – Faye, Sapphire, and Adaire, despite their many positives, are lacking in certain areas. What they needed were – 1) legitimate backstories that informed the reader about their background, early years, and other relationships, 2) their own share of secrets and some hidden motives that made them a little more multi-dimensional, and finally, 3) a part of their personalities shrouded in mystery that would leave the reader hungry for answers.
How good is the climax?
Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water has an interesting climax. Just when the reader begins to ponder over the linearity of things, comes the climax with its generous dose of suspense and twists. A cliffhanger of a moment is introduced right at the end that changes everything the reader has known so far.
There arises a new set of questions that can only be answered in the next book, leaving the reader no choice except to eagerly await its release.
In the end
In the end, Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water is a fast-paced middle-grade adventure fantasy that offers its readers a delightful escape from reality. A promising read from a young author, the book is ideal for children aged 8 to 15 years.
The final verdict
Do give it a try!
Pick the book if
- You enjoy fantasy books.
- You like middle-grade fantasy adventures.
- You are looking for a short and racy read.
Skip the book if
- You don’t like fantasy.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water using the link below.