The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta | Review

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: February 27th, 2018

Pages: 368

Publisher: Scholastic

Genre: middle grade, urban fantasy, fairytales, adventure, magic

Goodreads blurb:

MEET KIRANMALA: INTERDIMENSIONAL DEMONSLAYER

(But she doesn’t know it yet.)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish later that day and a rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories—like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess—and a wealth of secrets about her origin they’ve kept hidden.

To complicate matters, two crushworthy Indian princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’re here to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and slay demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld (who may or may not want to kill her) and the rakkhosh queen (who definitely does) in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…  


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R E V I E W

I am trying to look at this book as a completely individual series from the Percy Jackson series. A couple reasons for this; it is not even published by Rick Riordan’s publishing industry and this book is about Indian fairytales. I know it is so easy to compare middle-grade novels that are urban fantasy to Rick Riordan but you can’t with this. Why? Mainly because this is all own voices.

Now, into what I thought about everything. The Serpent’s Secret was a book I didn’t know what to expect from it. In the classic Amber fashion, I hadn’t read the blurb. I simply jumped into the middle-grade novel in hopes of finding a new favourite. Unfortunately, I didn’t, but I did enjoy the ride this story took. It was fun.

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta is a delightfully unique story. I have never read anything quite like this, or even seen anything represented in the media. This book incorporates so many parts of Bengali Indian culture. This is definitely not an area I am educated enough to speak on, so I’ll move on. On Kiranmala’s twelfth birthday everything goes wrong. She goes from being a regular sixth grader to having a demon smash through her kitchen and take her parents. This leads Kiranmala on a journey of discovery, with two charming Indian prince’s tagging along, to find her parents while also realizing that everything that they have told her in their stories is true. There are countless extra tasks thrown in that make it harder for Kiranmala, but that’s what keeps the book interesting! Kiranmala leans to be proud of her heritage throughout the novel. With the fast-paced novel, it is easy to fit all this into 368 pages.

I’ll jump into more about what I liked and dislike about The Serpent’s Secret now.

L I K E S

GREAT FAIRYTALE EXPLANATIONS

I love learning about different myths, fairytales and cultures while reading. I feel that’s how I learn the most. The Serpent’s Secret is no different. As Kiranmala learns what is real and what isn’t, via interdimensional travel, the reader does as well. It felt so important to become educated on these stories while reading. These are stories I have never heard and they were detailed and amazing. I truly wish these myths and fairy tales were incorporated into mainstream media more – obviously written by own voices writers.

CHARACTERS ARE ACTING THEIR AGE

I feel this is very important. Characters acting their age, when they’re young, feel so rare in books. I feel that characters are typically aged up in their personality though on paper it says they’re twelve. DasGupta really managed to capture the youth of Kiranmala. It was raw and truthful in so many elements, despite the book being an urban fantasy. It was truly refreshing.

IMAGERY IS BEAUTIFUL

This is a super simple thing I liked about The Serpent’s Secret but the imagery is mind-blowing. DasGupta created such beautiful scenes with her writing that truly brought me into the book. The added illustrations throughout were incredibly enjoyable as well, definitely welcome additions to the story. Definitely, something that would entice a young reader as well!

D I S L I K E S

KIND OF UNCOMFORTABLE HUMOUR

It’s not that it was uncomfortable but at times the humour felt as if it was trying too hard. Not all of it came under this category but I really was struggling to get into the characters, especially since a lot of the humour was due to the characters, not understanding Kiranmala. I also get these characters are twelve but I just felt like the humour was an element that could have been removed from the book.

TOO FAST PACED AT TIMES

I believe this book is a debut? Correct me if I’m wrong, please, so this I can understand. At times this book felt pretty choppy, with characters moving between scenes in a confusing way that left me rereading paragraphs trying to find the connection. It had me struggling to get through this book in that way.

Overall, this has been a hard review to write. I don’t want to step on any own voices reviewer’s toes but I do want to promote this book for its beautiful imagery and storytelling. I know I have to stay in my lane but I really do recommend this book to everyone, especially if you have younger children in your life because I feel like education at a young age on different cultures is so important. The Serpent’s Secret was ultimately a very enjoyable book. It was fast and it was silly and it was fun. I know I keep using the word fun but it’s true. This book was super fun to read. Definitely, add it to your TBR’s if you don’t mind a little middle grade in your life!


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Happy reading everyone!

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