Friday 9 August 2013

Review: Ash Mistry and the World of Darkness by Sarwat Chadda

Ash Mistry is in a world of pain. A parallel world in fact, where another version of him seems to be living his life, and the evil Lord Savage – now all-powerful and adored by the nation – is about to carry out a terrible plan.

Worse still, Ash’s superpowers, invested in him by the Death Goddess Kali, seem no longer to be working.

Without Kali, can Ash defeat Savage and save the world?

*** Warning: contains spoilers for book 2 (Ash Mistry and the City of Death)

After that jaw dropping cliffhanger at the end of Ash Mistry and the City of Death, Ash and Parvati now find themselves trapped in an alternate timeline caused when Lord Savage used his newly gained magical powers to travel back in time and change the past. This parallel universe is not hugely different from his own, but the differences are significant as far as Ash is concerned. In this world, Savage is seen as a generous and benevolent figure who has used his fortunes to help solve some of the world's problems. However, Ash is convinced that this Savage is just as evil and egotistical as the one he thought he had defeated. 

More bizarre for Ash though is the fact that there is another version of himself in this alternate timeline. Ashoka is like Ash before the events of The Savage Fortress, i.e. geeky, awkward, unfit, overweight and with very few skills that could be of any use in the battle that is sure to come. However, it is down to Ashoka, Ash and Parvati to discover Savage's diabolical plans and, if at all possible, defeat him once and for all. Oh and did I mention that Ash's awesome, superhero, Kali-bestowed powers have disappeared?

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Sarwat's writing, and I have loved every book he has written so far, from the brilliant pair of book featuring the young Templar, Billi SanGreal, to the first two books in the Ash Mistry trilogy. This third book, The World of Darkness, is no exception to this rule, and yet again Sarwat has delivered a fast-paced action-fest that will delight fans of his Indian mythology themed series.

I have to admit that the way Sarwat ended the second book left me with a few niggling doubts as to how much I would enjoy this finale to the trilogy. The sudden creation of an alternate timeline made me nervous as I have read a number of books where plot elements such as this were not at all handled well. Oh me of little faith! This is the mind of Sarwat Chadda we are talking about here, and those doubts were completely unfounded. Sarwat manages this jump and the action that unfolds in this alternate timeline with consummate ease, and it very quickly becomes a way of showing how much Ash has developed since he first encountered Savage. 

Every now and again throughout the story the author inserts a small chapter or a handful of paragraphs where Ash is in dreamsleep, 'remembering' some of his past lives, and using these to try to come to a solution to his current worries. These also show how the eons long love affair between Parvati and his past selves developed, and at times seemed so doomed and tragic. This complements the continuing development of their relationship in the current timeline, as the two grow closer and closer, and possibly even start to admit their feelings for each other.

This series is aimed at the 9+ age group, with both Sarwat Chadda and publisher HarperCollins understanding that kids do love (and can easily handle) darkness, violence, blood and horror in their stories. This book in particular does contain some pretty scary moments, and Savage's plans for the human race are especially gruesome. There will be a small handful of kids who might be frightened by some of the scenes in the book, but then again most of these will already know that they aren't comfortable with horror stories and will probably not pick the books up in the first place. However, those who take delight in a moderate dose of blood splatter and fantasy violence with love this end to the trilogy.

If you have not yet tried Sarwat's Ash Mistry books then you are seriously missing out on a great trilogy that is easily as good as any of the mythology based stories that Rick Riordan has written (in my opinion, Sarwat's books are even better). If my opinion isn't good enough for you then only recently Riordan himself tweeted that he had just read Ask Mistry and the Savage Fortress and thought it was great.

My thanks go to HarperCollins for sending me a copy of the book to read.

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