The Hidden Children: The Lost Grimoire, Reshma K. Barshikar, 2018

Title: The Hidden Children: The Lost Grimoire

Author: Reshma K. arshikar

Publisher: Two Ravens

Format: Paperback

Language: English

Pages: 420

Synopsis:

‘What price would you pay to be extraordinary? What would you do to speak to a butterfly? 

 Shayamukthy cruises through life: shooting hoops, daydreaming and listening to her favourite books. Even moving from the US to India, to a new school, a new culture, hasn’t really rattled her. But something isn’t right anymore and it begins when a New Girl joins the school. 

She pulls Shui into a world of magic and wonderment, a world she has been hidden from all her life. What starts as a quest to look for a lost book, hurtles Shui into a world where people live in trees, talk to the dead and speak to butterflies. 

But like all power, magic comes at a steep price, and under all things wondrous lie demons waiting to crawl out. The more Shui learns, the more she doubts everything and everyone around her.   

Will she be able to master her powers, or will they devour her and everyone she loves? 

About the author:

Travel writer and novelist Reshma K Barshikar is an erstwhile Investment Banker who, as she tells it, ‘fell down a rabbit hole and discovered a world outside a fluorescent cubicle.’ As a travel and features writer, she contributes to National Geographic Traveller, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, The Sunday Guardian, SilverKris, The Mint Lounge, and The Hindu. Fade Into Red, published by Random House India was her debut novel and featured in Amazon Top 10 Bestsellers. She also holds well-renowned workshops for young adults at both BDL Museum and Kala Ghoda and is keen to build a strong Young Adult reading and writing community to fill the desperate lack of young adult fiction in the Indian Market. Her new Young Adult novel, The Hidden Children, will be launching at the Vizag Junior Literary Festival. Reshma is from the ISB Class of 2003. She calls both Mumbai and the Nilgiris home. All her work can be found on www.reshmakrishnan.com 

My review:

I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset. https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in 

Being an avid fantasy reader, I just had to pick up The Hidden Children: The Lost Grimoire. Ofcourse, Ashok K. Banker’s blur really helped as well, since I personally like his writing as well.

The hope for achieving something great, of ambition and success is something we see starkly portrayed in Shayamukthy or Shui. We see her growth throughout the novel – and I consider it a bildungsroman in this aspect.

One thing that really impressed me was the intertextual or rather cross-cultural references, more specifically references to various movies, and books. It really points to the fact that the author herself is well-versed in all of them, well enough to have mentioned them at the necessary places.

The language used is understandable and as such, pre-teens and teens can read this without any difficulty. This dos not limit the book to only the younger side of the age spectrum.  Every fantasy lover can pick this one up.

The pacing however is a bit slow and that is where I personally faltered, in the beginning. If one can overlook that aspect, then I do not think anyone might find any problem otherwise. The first person perspective works well in this case and the occasional flashbacks are quite refreshing while also adding depth to the characters as well as the story. The themes of memory, childhood, magic, righteousness or rather good versus evil etc. intertwined well with the symbolism applied by the author. The ‘chosen one’ concept is a common trope, however, the author has added her own twist to it and delivered to us an exciting dish.

The world building, especially the magic system was really well planned and intriguing. The author does not fail even with the character building. Soumi, Nallini, Jai, Aadyant and Anya were all well portrayed and seemed realistic in their beings.

Set in a high school world, this book is truly one of a kind- I admit that I have never read something like this set in India. The author has done well in intertwining the American/European elements into the Indian context, and The Hidden Children, somewhere midway between YA literature and fantasy, might just be the book to introduce this in our country.

The title of the story makes a lot of sense as we delve deeper into the story. It is quite unique in its originality. The cover is also nice although it could have been a bit better. However I do think that it captures the essence of the story.

Verdict:

I quite enjoyed this book and I rate it a 4/5 stars.

About the reviewer

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

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