Thanks to NetGalley for giving me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
After Rea's twin brother disappears from their home in Darjeeling, she goes on a quest to save his life that takes her to another realm filled with magical flowers, an evil queen and a found identity. I absolutely adored reading about Rea's journey through finding not only friends and her brother, but herself. I think this is an important read for young minds, as it teaches them about selflessness, bravery and the importance of family. I cannot wait for readers to get their hands on this one, and I am excited to see where this compelling story take us in the future!
Thank you Netgalley and Mango and Marigold Press for the excellent advanced copy!
I felt like Rea was easy to identify with. She’s a loner but also lonely, and that absolutely resonated with me, especially in thinking back to my own life at that age. She’s also smart and motivated, though her trust issues kind of trip her up sometimes. I loved that the story explored her relationships with others and gave her opportunities to grow both as an individual and as a friend/sister/leader.
REA AND THE BLOOD OF THE NECTAR is full of playful moments. Sometimes they verge on being a bit cheesy, but I kind of liked those moments, too. It was nice to read a book that was both rich and beautiful but that didn’t take itself too seriously and embraced the silly and fun, too. That made it really fun to read.
The pacing of the story seemed pretty even to me, too. I felt like the stakes kept going up, and the tension definitely built as the story progressed toward the moment where Rea had to confront her antagonist.
I think readers who enjoyed THE FIREBIRD SONG by Arnée Flores or VASILISA by Julie Mathison will love this one.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
- Plot- or character-driven? A mix
- Strong character development? Yes
- Loveable characters? Yes
- Diverse cast of characters? Yes
- Flaws of characters a main focus? No
Fairly well done for a debut effort. The characters are likeable and interesting, and the story has unique elements and is a fun adventure with lots of Girl Power. My daughter read it first, and then I selected it to fulfill the Read Harder category "read an independently published book by a BIPOC author."
This novel was so fun and I’m so glad I got the chance to read and arc, so thank you to the publisher for the opportunity! I immediately loved the main character Rea. She had so much room for growth and I think that the issues she grappled with throughout the novel are very relatable. The way she grew throughout the novel was also soooo satisfying for me. It was so natural and it made just fall in love with her more and more. I also thought the side characters were great and the plot is one that I’ve seen echoed in other novels, but this author put her own spin on that so it remained original and didn’t go in directions I was expecting.
I thought that the themes of family and friendship and selflessness were really powerful, but the surface level of this novel was also just plain enjoyable. There was so much creativity in the magical land and the creatures that Rea encountered. Overall, this book was just so much fun to read and I will definitely be looking forward to it’s sequel! I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Rick Riordan/Rick Riordan Presents novels or fun MG adventures!
QOTD: Who is a character you love despite their many flaws?
AOTD: Is it basic for me to say Kaz Brekker? He certainly has flaws, but I love his character just the same. And no I haven’t seen the show yet so don’t say any spoilers!!
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It has a beautiful and a riveting plot. A celebration of family, of magic and of sibling love, it is an accurate representation of South Asia and the very different childhood we have compared to the western world.
I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Where should I start?
First off, this book is fast-paced, plot and character-driven. I absolutely loved and adored it whilst reading. The first few chapters really had me that I couldn't put it down. The moment I started reading it, I know by heart that I will absolutely love this and it never fails.
What I loved about this book was the book itself as a whole. It was a whimsical, enthralling, adventure-packed book. I devoured this with only an average expectation but turns out I was wrong. The book was written beautifully. I'm impressed by the author's how she laid out the prose on this story to add extra excitement plus the mystery! I'm impressed by the author's how she laid out the prose on this story to add extra excitement plus the mystery! I really admire the magical system of this book, it's gripping and exciting. This is by far the most surprising book I've ever read this year. All of the characters were diverse, complex, funny, and tenacious with braveness combine. They are all wonderful and adorable.
Overall, if you love middle-grade fantasy books, this book is for you! I highly recommend this book to everyone! There's so much of this book that should be praised and recognized.
The first thing that drew me to this book is that it’s set in India! I’ve read very few books set in India and nothing that’s middle grade. I’m glad it did because the setting was just beautiful.
Rea is a fantastic MC to show kids it’s possible to find magic inside of themselves.
My only issue was the pacing. It was definitely a little off and could use more action.
I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Aru Shah or the Chronicles of Narnia.
Representation: Indian protagonist, Indian secondary characters.
Content Warning: sexism, bullying, violence, kidnapping.
Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi is a magical middle-grade filled with adventures, splendid creatures, self-introspection and familiar love.
Lonely Rea is infuriated once she discovers her twin brother is going to celebrate their birthday with his friends and he did not invite her. She decides then to hatch a plan to spoil his cricket match. After the game, Rohan leaves her behind and walks home alone. Upon returning Rea notices Rohan is not there and his cricket kit has been abandoned near their house. Panicked, she wakes their mother and grandmother who start looking for him. The only clue, a piece of crimson paper left in front of their house.
The days after her brother’s disappearance, Rea’s dreams are troubled by mysterious images which she cannot comprehend. She then decides, with the help of her neighbour Leela, to consult the local fortune teller. The woman’s prophecy and the puzzle it holds within will lead the two girls into a world of court intrigues, spectacular beings, unveiled secrets and adventures.
I quite liked the fantastical flora-inspired world with its captivating inhabitants, I just wished the author had thought outside the binary and included diversity. An aspect that confused me a tad though, or at least I wished was explored more, was the history of the floral realm of Astranthia and the source of its existence, the Som. I hoped for more details about the loss of the two petals of the flower.
As for the characters, no one shone brighter that Rea’s bespectacled, sunny neighbour and friend, Leela. She easily conquered the gold among all characters with her fierce loyalty and optimistic and loving nature. Rea, on the other hand, kind of irked me. I understood completely her cynicism and caution towards others and the walls she built around herself for protection; indeed, it was her self-centredness and the easiness with which she fell back in old behavioural patterns that bothered me more. The rest of the characters did not leave really a mark.
Rea and The Blood of the Nectar is an easy read, perfect if you are looking for something quick, but still substantial.
Off the bat, let me tell you, it’s just so very heartwarming to just look at this book. The cover in and of itself fills me with all kinds of happy, fluffy feelings. I know it shouldn’t really be as big a deal as it is to me, but seeing a little brown girl on that cover always gives me such a serotonin boost that this book gets points for just existing in that form.
Now, onto the meat of the story! The plot takes off when, the morning of their twelfth birthday, Rea wakes up to find her brother Rohan missing, and her mother and grandmother despairing over it. She feels an immense amount of guilt over this happening, because she leaves him behind the night before, and her family sort of gives up on finding him ever, which angers her. All this spurs her into action, and with the help of her friend Leela, Rea vows to find her brother and bring him back home. What she doesn’t anticipate is this investigation of hers taking her across the border between realms into the strange and wonderful world of Astranthia, a world that she comes to learn is as much a part of her as Darjeeling is, only she was never told of it.
As a middle-grade portal fantasy, this story has a pretty standard plot structure. There’s the over-the-top, almost ridiculous fantasy world that Rea is thrown into, and she is somehow a very important part of its history and its future - she’s The Chosen One, of course-, and there’s the quest she must go on with the help of her trusty sidekicks. It’s also kind of Alice in Wonderland-y, in a way, what with there being an evil, power hungry queen, and Rea, who must beat her at her own game to get her brother back. These things aren’t essentially bad, per se, but I do feel that they lent the story a certain predictability, and took away from the mystery element of it all. It was still a fun little adventure, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like it would’ve been great if we saw things being shaken up a little bit more.
One of the things that irked me the most, however, was the world-building when it came to the land of Astranthia. It was all pretty inconsistent, and mostly felt like a jumbled up version of amusing and fantastical elements that can exist in a world just shoved together. I feel like that really made the story easy to fall out of often, especially since the girls’ fascination with Astranthia is a huge part of their journey to find Rohan. I think this kind of world can work with a story with as high stakes as this one, as long as you’re able to work around exposing parts of it a certain way, and this was not it. (Also, a lot of the parts of this fantasy world felt very anglicized to me. I mean, this is definitely a very subjective opinion, but it was a little too
Barbie: Fairytopia - which, there is nothing wrong with that, but I don’t really see how a world like that adds to the story the author is trying to tell here in any way. And how Darjeeling being the previous backdrop brings anything to the plate. Like it’s just this very disjointed element that took me out of the book a lot is what I’m trying to say here).
Actually, the writing itself was definitely something that bothered me throughout. There’s definitely a lot of interesting things in this story, but the style of writing just did not gel with all those ideas, in my opinion. There were parts when the writing felt very stilted, and there was also a whole lot of telling and not showing. The pacing was also a little all over the place which made all the character development and growing dynamics between all the different characters feel very disingenuous and forced. There was definitely a solid beginning, middle and end to each character’s journey in the story, and it really had the potential to work out really well, but I felt like it was lacking severely in execution.
The ending of the book was also very confusing. Well, the beginning of the third act, too, to be honest. There’s a lot of political stuff that’s supposed to be going on, and there’s scenes which are supposed to be “battle scenes”, but it was all kind of confusing, and more often than not, felt like something that came out of the blue. There’s just too many plotlines happening all the time, but the focus is always on Rea, and nothing else gets enough of a significant mention even when it involves one of the other important sidekicks, so it feels like it’s a plot thread that’s spawning into existence spontaneously in the middle of some random scene.
Also, the magnitude of these scenes is also always unclear, I feel. For instance, the first “battle” that’s a protest gone violent just read like a minor scuffle to me, but then in the aftermath you have all these hundreds of people injured and dead, and an entire army retreating and it was all a little AAAAH-inducing, you know? (Also the whole thing about this country is they don’t want to “disrupt tradition” as their current Queen is doing and I really don’t want to touch that moral with a ten foot pole like GIRL WHAT).
As much as I am complaining about this book, I do think it’s still a relatively fun read? Like it’s a middle-grade fantasy!! It’s obviously fun!! The characters are, despite their sometimes insanely out of pocket behaviour and mood changes, really cute. The friendships are fun to read about! And the complicated relationship the Rea has with her family is also pretty well done, and struck a chord with me. The parts with Queen Razya were really fun to read, and there’s a lot of backstory there that we didn’t get to see, and I definitely want to know about more!
Also the magic system is super cool! I liked that despite being a middle-grade, the author did not shy away from the slight body horror of blood magic. There were also these really cute paris that were so freaking adorable, I could NOT deal. There’s also all these fantastical creatures spread out, and there’s parts of this story that WORK, and work really well!! It’s just that these are all, at the end of the day, still parts, and they don’t all fit well perfectly, which is something that makes this book feel a little off.
More than anything, I do see the value in having a story featuring little girls from a tiny village in Darjeeling be the main characters in an epic fantasy story, but at the same time, I do feel disappointed, overall, because there was really so much potential, but it felt like a bunch of great, fun ideas held together with sellotape and the power of my will to like this book. So, like, yeah, I do think this book can be a fun read! But I also think it’s definitely not for everyone, and it has a lot of kinks that need working out!