Note: When testing links in our archives, we discovered we'd accidentally deleted this review's original post. Years later, it's remained one of our favorites, so we decided to (re)share it. Enjoy!
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has made her fair share of mistakes. She has what she likes to call an imagination—and what her snooty classmates call a skill at lying. When three school bullies finally confront her with her stories, she’s determined to prove that she’s been telling the truth about some things, at least. So she accepts a dare. She lights a lamp. And she unleashes a legendary monster, who, if she cannot stop him, will tear Time itself apart. Which is definitely her record for Biggest Mistake Ever.
To keep the darkness she has loosed at bay, Aru must journey from her home to the Otherworld to the kingdom of Death itself, joining forces with a sarcastic pigeon (yes, a pigeon) and a skittish yet super-smart girl apparently woven into Aru’s destiny, searching for a way to destroy the ancient evil, and maybe even (gulp) save the world. Which might be way more than Aru and her new friends can manage. Because not only do stories turn out to be true— things Aru thought were true turn out to be stories.
Because Aru isn’t the only one with secrets…
This was one of those books which managed to be entertaining, surprising, and completely hilarious. Aru is an irresistible heroine, and her various adventures in a world where normal life and Hindu mythology overlap seamlessly make the book impossible to put down. The vivid settings and equally clever supporting cast combine to make this a highly enjoyable fantasy that I would recommend for ages 8+.