Posted in Books

Book Review: Heirs of Catriona, by Anusha Subramanian

Impressions off the back cover:
Magic… it is interesting. A quest to save a land, and two young heroines who know nothing of the land they have to save. Mythology will play a prominent part, but I feel raw emotion and a deep love for family will be something that will probably be spread in no little amounts throughout the story. And this is only the beginning of a four part series. It will be interesting to see where our authoress decides to break the plot of the entire series, and if she succeeds in casting a spell from the very first page, as written on the back-cover.

My thoughts on the book:
A teenage author bringing fantasy fiction to life… and Anusha Subramanian, just twelve years of age, does it fantastically. I think the first thing that allured me to this book was the fact that she is so young. It is a time when imagination has no limits and it can bring out some vivid images. This is a children’s fantasy fiction that will appeal to older audiences too. Something quite innocent yet filled with curiosity, action and adventure.

Two best friends (or as she puts it – soul sisters) are our heroines. They are college students, living near each other’s homes, supporting each other and working together to go through college. If you read the opening chapter, you’d think they were like any of us, nothing “special” in them. They love each other like sisters and pull each other’s legs a lot. The language is such that you’d find nothing amiss if you were in their place. They grew up on their own ever since their mothers suddenly vanished one day, leaving Sara a diary and a riddle to solve to get to a place unlike any other. They have identical butterfly pendant necklaces without the gemstones and (as we later come to know) are actually cousins.

The lives of Sara and Crystal change suddenly when an old man visits them to tell them who they really are – princesses of the magical land of Catriona, where the evil queen Merissa has imprisoned their mothers, the rightful queens of the land. They have to travel through a painting to get there, but they have to solve the riddle given by Sara’s mother Anastasia to get there, which they do. They find that Catriona is a land where myths and gods and goddesses come alive, and that they are capable of magic, which Sara sort of knew earlier. They find that to save the land, they have to find the gemstones that complete their pendants.

On the quest to find the gemstones, they find friends and enemies of the powerful kind, Catriona being a place where all myths coincide. They face obstacles that they have to get past, get wounds that heal slow at times, ant at times very quickly. And yes, all through the plot, the fact that the heroines are teenagers stand out in the narration with the language used.

To tell the sour side to all the sweetness this book holds, the characters don’t have a lot of layers. They are what they say they are, and act as they are meant to be. The heroines keep tripping up on things and knocking themselves out (which can still be considered acceptable given that they are in a strange land where they have no idea what is where and what is what for that matter) and yes, they eat a lot (too often). There are times I feel Anusha gets a Hindi line in her head and puts it in (but that works in the places and generates humor quite well).

Overall impressions:
For children, this book will hold a lot of interest and fun. For adults, if they read from a child’s perspective, or they enjoy fantasy fiction, then this book will be worth buying and keeping. Anusha brings mythology to life, and has researched about these characters quite well before writing. Her writing is influenced by many authors I feel, but the book shows the enthusiasm, imagination and more importantly, a passion that she has for writing. There are no mushy love scenes… in fact, there are only two guys in the entire story who I can say might play a part in future parts of the series. The one thing I feel she can avoid is the too much of food. With so much eating involved, perhaps the heroines would bloat on their quest! Anusha, you have a strong world of Catriona, with some amazing characters. Deepen your characters a little, that’s all I can suggest. Kudos to you… this book is one I shall keep for a long time. I hope the next part isn’t going to be much delayed coz I can’t wait to read it.

Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book Details:
Title: Heirs of Catriona
Author: Anusha Subramanian
Genre: Fantasy / Fiction
ISBN: 9788129120403
Publishers: Rupa
Price: INR 195


This is an author-requested review, given for a review copy of the book, but no other payment.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Also for the Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.

(’12, Dec 19)