PLOT: 3.5/5

My musings

We all know what is the best way to see your name on a book. As an author, right? Well, then let me ask you another question. What is the second-best way to see your name on a book? 

Clueless, are you?

Well, it is to be quoted right on the cover page. And that’s exactly what happens in this book. A quote from my review of Anagha’s first book Celestia Chronicles: Fire and Water finds mention on the cover.

This quote aptly captures my thoughts on having read the then 12-year-old Anagha’s book – 

“The power of Anagha’s storytelling belies her age.”

The story as it goes

The saga of Celestia is no more a fairy tale. No more it is harmless pixies and fun-filled characters. This time it is dark and sinister with an underlying sense of foreboding.

The throne of Emberglass that Adaire and her likes wanted to snatch away from evil Queen Zyra’s clutches has once again fallen into evil. From one evil queen to another. Perhaps that was how the saga was always meant to be.

The hero that everyone saw in Adaire was maybe just an illusion. And Adaire too, just like everyone else, never saw it coming. She wants to back out now, and go back to being the simple book-loving girl that she was, but no matter how hard she tries, Celestia has become a part of her. She and Celestia are too deeply entwined to ever stay away from each other.

Thus, when the latest evil Queen Sereia seeks her out, Adaire is left with little choice in the matter. She will be forced to rethink her loyalties and her commitment to the cause.

But maybe, becoming a villain would prove to be much harder than becoming a hero.

The next level

While the climax of Book 1 leaves us on a precipice, leaving many questions unanswered and prompting many new ones, Book 2 begins on a rather dramatic and ostentatious note, introducing us to the young Queen Sereia and her backstory. For those who remember, Queen Sereia is the very character who remains shrouded in deep mystery in Book 1. It is in Book 2 that we see her shorn of some secrecy.

But it is also true that she continues to baffle the reader just as she did in the prequel.

The beginning

The beginning is again impressive, with Anagha’s description of the Queen creating both awe and terror in the minds of the reader. To give you an idea of the same, I have included a few quotes from the book. It is to be noted that great attention has been given to creating this illusion of power and superiority and thus, descriptions like the ones below frequently find their way into the book.

“…. turquoise eyes that glowed with what she liked to call, the light of her intellect.”

“she looked like someone who had to be respected, if not adored. Obeyed.”

Statements like these go a long way in establishing the personality and aura of a character, and to begin the book with such a strong character is a recipe for success.

Who can read?

The book is a middle-grade adventure fantasy that would most likely appeal to lovers of fantasy fiction aged between 8 to 14. Celestia Chronicles: The Ashes of Hope is written in simple yet rich language and can be read by beginners. However, since it is Book 2 in the Celestia Chronicles, it cannot be read as a standalone read and has to be accompanied by a prior reading of Book 1.

What to expect?

Expect a middle age adventure fantasy that has themes of both action and adventure. Expect a fantasy with a strong-willed and bold teenage girl as the protagonist. Expect a coming-of-age novel that transforms a shy dreamy girl into a strong, bold, and practical teenager.

Expect a book where good and evil overlap and grey obscures the fine line between right and wrong. Expect a medium-paced medium-length read of under 200 pages that can be easily read in a day or two.

In the end

In the end, Celestia Chronicles: The Ashes of Hope is a read that explores and forges the boundaries of fantasy fiction in India. That it’s written by a 14-year-old writer is a feat on a whole new level. An exciting cast of characters, some well-thought plot twists, and the battle of good vs evil fought in a landscape that is increasingly becoming grey, make it all the more interesting to read. They say that with age writing too, matures like fine wine. But here we see young Anagha, redefining the parameters of age and improvement.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Celestia Chronicles: The Ashes of Hope using the link below.