“The load on her heart was lighter, but her resolve and courage stronger because they were in this together.”
Hi all! I’m excited to share my review for Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi as part of the Lonely Pages Book Tour! This middle-grade novel featuring an Indian protagonist is perfect for young fantasy readers who love adventures and discovering new worlds!
Title: REA AND THE BLOOD OF THE NECTAR
Age category: Middle Grade
Publisher: Mango and Marigold Press
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Where to buy: Mango and Marigold Press
“Perfect for fans of the Aru Shah books and The Chronicles of Narnia.
A middle-grade fantasy about twelve-year-old Rea Chettri, who portals into an otherworldly realm to go on a secret quest to find her missing twin brother Rohan. The clock is ticking in this fast-paced, thrilling, and exciting adventure rife with evil creatures, a ruthless villain, and unforgettable friendships.
It all begins on the night Rea turns twelve. After a big fight with her twin brother Rohan on their birthday, Rea’s life in the small village of Darjeeling, India, gets turned on its head. It’s four in the morning and Rohan is nowhere to be found.
It hasn’t even been a day and Amma acts like Rohan’s gone forever. Her grandmother, too, is behaving strangely. Unwilling to give up on her brother, Rea and her friend Leela meet Mishti Daadi, a wrinkly old fortune-teller whose powers of divination set them off on a thrilling and secret quest. In the shade of night, they portal into an otherworldly realm and travel to Astranthia, a land full of magic and whimsy. There with the help of Xeranther, an Astranthian barrow boy, and Flula, a pari, Rea battles serpent-lilies and blood-sucking banshees, encounters a butterfly-faced woman and blue lizard-men, and learns that Rohan has been captured. Rea also discovers that she is a princess with magic. Only she has no idea how to use it.
Struggling with the truth her Amma has kept hidden from her, Rea must solve clues that lead to Rohan, find a way to rescue him and save Astranthia from a potentially deadly fate. But the clock is ticking. Can she rescue Rohan, save Astranthia, and live to see it all?
Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is Payal Doshi’s stunning #ownvoices middle-grade fantasy debut about understanding complex family dynamics, fighting for what is right, discovering oneself, and learning to make friends.”
Content Warnings: death, injuries/blood, violence
Rea Chettri is a 12 year-old living in Darjeeling, India who feels neglected and under-valued by her family—it seems as though her mother favors her twin brother Rohan, who is hanging out more and more with his own friends.
When Rohan disappears after an argument, Rea goes on a quest to find him and bring him back home. In her mission to save Rohan, Rea discovers the alternate realm of Astranthia, where she meets new friends and begins to untangle family secrets. Rea finds out that she has the magic to save Rohan and Astranthia, but must discover how to properly wield it.
I really enjoyed this middle-grade fantasy debut that smoothly weaves together the real-world setting of Darjeeling and the floral, whimsical realm of Astranthia. Through beautiful descriptions and lots of imagery, Payal Doshi brings the characters and settings of Rea and the Blood of the Nectar to life.
Doshi does a great job in creating complex, realistic characters. Whether the protagonist of Rea or secondary characters like Xeranther and Flula, each character has their flaws and must deal with conflicting influences.
The plot is also well-paced and interesting—I never knew what would happen next. Doshi does a great job in balancing the accomplishments and the obstacles thrown in Rea’s way. The book is full of the twist and turns that I enjoy in fantasy novels.
I loved reading about the world of Astranthia and all its little details. The creatures, like paris and Ceffyldwers, were interesting to learn about, and I appreciated how fleshed out the rules that govern their functions are. It was magical to read about the floral settings of Astranthia.
One of my favorite aspects of Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is the character development. I enjoyed following Rea as she learns to be more selfless and work together with others. Watching the female friendship between Rea and Leela develop, seeing Rea consider others’ perspectives, and reading about how Rea’s family realized her worth was infinitely rewarding.
Of course, the Indian representation was amazing to see! I loved reading about the food, holidays, and clothing that are a part of the Chettri family’s life.
I think Rea and the Blood of the Nectar does a great job in exploring the themes that young people deal with in an interesting and magical way. Doshi ties explorations of grief, jealousy, neglect, gender differences, friendship, class, and finding one’s power into an enthralling tale.
This book is perfect for young readers who enjoy reading about fantastical worlds and magical quests, and I’m excited for future installments of The Chronicles of Astranthia!
about the author
Payal Doshi has a Masters in Creative Writing (Fiction) from The New School, New York. Having lived in the UK and US, she noticed a lack of Indian protagonists in global children’s fiction and one day wrote the opening paragraph to what would become her first children’s novel. She was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and three-year-old daughter. When she isn’t writing or spending time with her family, you can find her nose deep in a book with a cup of coffee or daydreaming of fantasy realms to send her characters off into. She loves the smell of old, yellowed books. Rea and the Blood of the Nectar, the first book in The Chronicles of Astranthia series is her debut middle grade novel. For more information, visit her website, www.payaldoshiauthor.com, or follow her on Instagram @payaldoshiauthor and on Twitter @payaldwrites.
Thank you to Lonely Pages Book Tours and Mango and Marigold Press for including me as part of this tour, and for providing me a copy of the book for an honest review!
Check out the other content that’s part of this tour by viewing the full schedule below!
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