War between the devas and the demons is imminent, and the Otherworld is on high alert. When intelligence from the human world reveals that the Sleeper is holding a powerful clairvoyant and her sister captive, 14-year-old Aru and her friends launch a search-and-rescue mission. The captives, a pair of twins, turn out to be the newest Pandava sisters, though, according to a prophecy, one sister is not true. During the celebration of Holi, the heavenly attendants stage a massage PR rebranding campaign to convince everyone that the Pandavas are to be trusted. As much as Aru relishes the attention, she fears that she is destined to bring destruction to her sisters, as the Sleeper has predicted. Aru believes that the only way to prove her reputation is to find the Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree that came out of the Ocean of Milk when it was churned. If she can reach it before the Sleeper, perhaps she can turn everything around with one wish. Careful what you wish for, Aru . . .
I don’t think I’m currently reading any middle grade books except this series but I can never let this one go because it’s too special and close to my heart. It took me a while to get to it because of the pandemic but reading it was a joy and I’m so happy.
The strength of this series has always been how well Roshani seamlessly integrates various stories from Hindu mythology into a modern adventure tale, and it never fails to bring a smile on my face. There were many of my favorites this time around including the legend of the Kalpavriksha, the Narasimha avatar of Lord Vishnu and the story of the Amritha manthan – but I absolutely loved the way the Yakshaprashna sequence from the Mahabharata was included. There are also many laughs to be had along the way, but the action felt more scary and the stakes were definitely higher this time. The pacing is quite fast and if not for my slumpy mood, this wouldn’t have taken me more than a day to finish. The characters are thrown into situation after scary situation, and there’s hardly any time to take a breath in the middle of their quest – and we readers are equally swept away on this thrilling adventure.
The characters have really come a long way through these three books and it shows. Particularly Aru spends a lot of this book self-reflecting on the life she could have had if things had been different with her father, contemplating if she is the right person to be the de facto leader of their group, and how would she ever be successful in this war. We really feel very connected to her emotionally and long for her to realize that she is worth it.
We also get our final two Pandava sisters Nikita and Sheela who have their own powers with plants and prophecies respectively. But they are also ten years old, so it was kinda adorable to see some little ones who had already suffered a lot, but still wanna fulfill their destiny. We also Rudy, Aiden’s cousin who is a bit of a self-obsessed obnoxious royal but brings a lot of humor to the proceedings with his pretentious dialogue as well as absolute cluelessness about anything earthly. Brynne and Aiden also get to shine, especially in the action sequences and it was marvelous to see her bravery and his resourcefulness in full light.
But I really thought Mini got a great chance to standout even though we never get to read the story from her POV. She has always been someone who has a quiet strength about her and is very loyal to her sisters, but in the aforementioned Yakshaprashna scene, we really get to see how thoughtful and wise she has grown to be, and how much more she deserves to be celebrated.
To conclude, this was an absolutely delightful read and I had so much fun buddy reading it with my dear friend Tova. If you are someone who loves middle grade adventures with great characters and a beautiful mythological backdrop, then you should totally checkout this series. And if you are already a fan but haven’t gotten the chance to read this latest installment yet, do pick it up soon because I promise this is the exact kind of fun story you need during these anxious times. And after that doozy of an ending, I am eagerly awaiting the next book which already has a spectacular gold cover, and it can’t come out soon enough.