The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta | SLJ Review

Gr 5-7 –On her 12th birthday, Kiranmala gets a lot more than she expected: a rakkhosh (an Indian demon) roars onto her home, wanting to eat her; even more surprising, a set of handsome princes arrive to help her escape.

redstarDASGUPTA, Sayantani. The Serpent’s Secret. 368p. (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond: Bk. 1). Scholastic. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338185706.

Gr 5-7 –On her 12th birthday, Kiranmala gets a lot more than she expected: a rakkhosh (an Indian demon) roars onto her home, wanting to eat her; even more surprising, a set of handsome princes arrive to help her escape. Thus begins Kiran’s adventures in the Kingdom Beyond, an alternate dimension where her parents are being held captive and will end up as a meal for a baby rakkhosh unless Kiran and her friends can solve the riddles, complete their journey, and rescue her parents. Debut author Dasgupta includes many references to Bengali folktales, with asides that playfully detour the narrative for a few pages while someone’s mustache is stolen or a famous nursery rhyme is quoted. The subplots are interesting and the overall story will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan and those who like their adventures fast and furious. The strong female protagonist and the integration of generally under-explored Indian mythology make this a compelling choice for most libraries. VERDICT Purchase for upper elementary and middle school libraries where Percy Jackson still rules.–Elizabeth Friend, Wester Middle School, TX

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

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