Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review - Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda

As anyone who works with, or writes for, young people knows, when it comes to YA fiction there's always something that's 'in'. At the moment it's dystopian fiction. Before that it was a bunch of sissy vampires doing a lot of navel gazing and talking in inspid cliches (no I'm not a Twilight fan). And so on, and so on. Just bubbling below the flavour of the month are certain genres of YA fiction that, arguably, have greater staying power and lasting appeal. One such is what I you could call fantasy action series: i.e. young hero finds themselves battling against otherworldly evil. Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress is, I suppose, one such book. But far from being an identikit tale, Chadda has delivered a fresh, and very appealing story that is a very welcome addition to the genre.

The ubiquitous Mistry is a podgy hero, reluctantly spending his summer holidays in India with his annoying little sister Lucky and his archaeologist Uncle. But heat, flies, traffic and Delhi belly soon becomes the last of his troubles, as a job taken on by his uncle from the mysterious Lord Savage lands him in a whole new world of trouble. Soon, Ash and Lucky are involved in a deadly battle against demonic hordes. What can a geeky boy who prefers to spend his days in online gaming sessions do to stop them? Perhaps the mysterious golden arrowhead he stumbles upon at the archaeological dig has something to do with it...

Written in a witty, humourous style, Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress has an underdog protagonist you can't help but root for. Its appeal is far reaching: anyone who loves the likes of Skulduggery Pleasant is sure to dig this. But where this really comes up trumps is its subject matter, and how it deals with it. For someone who knows next to nothing about Indian mythology, I came away feeling slightly less ignorant and keen to find out more of the tale of Rama. But Chadda doesn't turn this in to a history lesson: he keeps the action, and the wisecracks, coming thick and fast. This is a cracking story well told, and best of all, more Ash Mistry adventures are promised for the future.


  1. It's brilliant. Have you read Chadda's Billi SanGreal books, Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess? I loved them.

  2. No not yet, but I intend to :-)