Fantasy is a genre that, for me, needs magic not only in the storyline but also in the narration of the novel itself. It’s that magic which endears it to the reader, and makes novels like the Harry Potter series or The Hobbit enjoyable. I’ve read very few in the genre from Indian authors who write in English, so when the author approached me for reviewing this book, I only slightly hesitated before accepting it.
Sceadu (pronounced Shay-du, and meaning “shadow”) is a land discovered by accident, by a nine year old girl, Matilda (Tilda). She finds the entrance after reading a book she found at a used-book sale. Circumstances fall in place as her parents and aunt are called elsewhere urgently, and leave her, her brother Robert and cousins, Patrick and Steven home-alone. When her cousins refuse to believe her that Sceadu exists, she storms off to the land in a huff. When they notice Matilda is missing, her brother and cousins themselves enter the land to rescue her, battling the creatures of the land (Faeries, Imps, Goblins and Ghouls, led by Resolutus, the evil king). They come to know that a prophecy foretells that the four of them must win their battle against the magical creatures to stop their world on earth from being destroyed.
While I wouldn’t say that this book has magical narration in oodles, it has enough to complement the magical creatures and storyline. The idea of a land within our shadow was very interesting, and to have the clues to the land in a book was well done. The land, with its various kingdoms, and creatures kept me engaged once the story shifted to it. The character sketching of the four children was well thought. Adamant Tilda, who believes the land in a book, reminds me of Ginny Weasley in The Chamber of Secrets. Her reasoning and understanding of the land is crucial. Patrick and Robert are the egoistical ones, determined to play leader, but their love for Tilda trumps all other aspects of their character. And Steven is kind of like Dilton Doiley, not the leader but still, wise and helpful when the time comes. The idea of the whispering river was another thing I loved in the tale. Overall, I’d say there are lots of things to enjoy in this book.
The book that leads to Sceadu doesn’t play a big part, which is a let-down. I would have liked to know more about it, why it made Tilda attracted to it and such. There were parts that were a bit slow paced. These are the ones that happen away from Sceadu, like Evan’s explanations or when the parents are leaving or when the cousins are at loggerheads. While they matter to the story, they don’t hold my interest as much as the journey of the four through Sceadu and their meetings with the fantastical creatures. The land of Sceadu has many kingdoms, and their names and locations tended to be confusing. The map helps a little, but it’s not nice when one has to break the flow to go back to the map. And lastly, I’d say the boys were a little too hungry given the amount of food talk.
This book, for me, has more positive aspects than the negative ones, and is worth reading. The book will appeal to anyone who loves fantasy genre, old or young, but more to the children because as adults, we sometimes tend to analyze as we read.
Author: Prashant Pinge
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Price: INR 250
(26th December 2014)