Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress is a book about a boy named Ash Mistry, who is a chubby British Asian thirteen year old who loves gaming with his friends. Ash has an interest in Indian ancient history, so he and his sister, Lucky, are visiting Varanasi, a holy city in India for their holidays. Ash and Lucky stay with their historian Uncle Vik who captured Ash’s interest in Indian history and Aunt Anita. Uncle Vik is then hired as a translator by the menacing Lord Savage and Ash discovers a magical arrowhead. Ash uncovers Lord Savage’s plot to use that arrowhead to open iron gates which hold a powerful demon-king, Ravana from the famous Indian legend, the Ramayana. Ash and Lucky fly from Lord Savage and his demon henchmen, training to fight against him in Varanasi. A snake demon called Parvati joins Ash’s fight. But then Lucky is kidnapped by Savage – can Ash and Parvati rescue his little sister and stop the demon-king Ravana from being brought back to life to take over the world?
Before I read Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress, I was filled with excitement. Here was a young adult’s novel which had a British Asian hero and which incorporated references to Hindu mythology, a subject of intense interest to me. As I read on, I was intrigued by the unfolding of the plot and the writing style was unpretentious and easy to latch on to. The book’s main themes of reincarnation and death were interesting in themselves, as was the re-writing of myth which took place. Chadda was unafraid in broaching such adult topics as death in his work.
There were flaws. What struck me was the lack of complication and an insufficient attention paid to the details of the work. The characterisation was also by no means amazing. Ash mistry was a rather underdeveloped and straightforward character without any nuance, for example. Similarly Lord Savage seems to be little more than a mere cypher in quest of immortality. Parvati, the exception, was a much more interesting character. I was left wanting for more of her and her personality. The book also lacked somewhat in the kind of dialogue we find in similar works of fiction such as the Harry Potter series – a fault perhaps in having two heroes instead of three.
However, this was a well written first attempt at creating an interesting series featuring a British Asian hero and it was an interesting read. I believe the complication has the potential to be developed in the next two instalments and look forward to reading them. While there was nothing innovative or outside the box in the first book, there was also nothing objectionable. It was a good time-passing book with special interest for the British Asian.