Book Review: Rea and the Blood of the Nectar (The Chronicles of Astranthia, #1) by Payal Doshi

About the Book:

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.

My Thoughts:

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is an amazing adventure filled story that follows Rea as she embarks on a journey to find her kidnapped twin brother. The author brings out the differences in characters between Rea and Rohan as we start of the book observing their sibling rivalry. Almost twelve years old, the two are more alike than they care to admit, but have drifted apart with Rohan developing new interests. When Rohan disappears and their mother and grandmother go into a worried frenzy, Rea takes it upon herself to find her brother.

The book gives us a glimpse into the tea gardens of Darjeeling and then takes us into flower filled Astranthia, making this a delightful read for both the young and old! There are portals, magic, secrets, mystical creatures and so much more that add to this captivating read! Rea makes friends along the way and slowly learns to trust people as well as let go of jealousy. She also learns the importance of thinking about other people and not just how things affect her. All these messages and lessons are brought out very well through their experiences and I am sure that they will serve as a learning for our young readers!

Set against the backdrop of India, the author also brings out some of the culture and food which are for me quite relatable. However, the best parts of the story are in the magic filled adventure that the children and fairy embark on. The plan to save Rohan turns into one of revelations and truths which serve to help everyone in Astranthia.

I loved reading this book and am looking forward to more adventures for Rea. She is strong for a twelve year old and quite determined. I also enjoyed how she opens herself up to new experiences and learns to form bonds of friendship. A thoroughly enjoyable tale, Payal Doshi has brought to us a page turner as her debut novel!

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