Book Review: ‘The City of Death’ by Sarwat Chadda

Posted: 18 July 2016 in Book reviews
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It’s been months since Ash returned from India to try and lead a normal life in London. It’s not easy being the Kali-aastra, but he manages. He even has a crush on a girl named Gemma. But when Parvati shows up at his house, his life is turned upside down. She is there looking for the Koh-I-Noor, the large Indian diamond normally found in the Queen Mother’s crown. It’s actually an aastra and it has been stolen. Parvati isn’t the only one after it. Word is that Savage wants it.  Parvati must get it back before Lord Savage does.

Their success has disastrous results. Ash’s nemesis Jackie tracks them and kills Gemma. Now Ash’s friends and family fear him. He feels some time away would be good so he leaves to India with Parvati to find and stop Savage once and for all. Once there, he is reunited with his friend John and previous master Ujba. Ujba warns him against trusting both Parvati and John, but Ash doesn’t listen. He is betrayed and nearly killed by Savage. He knows he needs to get stronger and finally relents to Ujba’s training.

Imbued with the strength of Kali, Ash is better prepared to go up against Savage. Ash and John track him to the southern part of India, but before Ash can kill him Savage reveals that he can bring Gemma back from the dead. Ash knows it can’t be true, but his guilt for allowing her to die gives him the slightest glimmer of hope. Ash decides to trust him against his better judgement and watches as Savage raises Lanka, the long drowned capital of Ravana.

Somewhere deep in the heart of Ravana’s palace is the secret to raising the dead. Or is it? With all the secrets being kept by his friends and enemies, was Ash mistaken to trust in Savage? Or was he the only one who was honest with him?

My Thoughts

For those who have read my review of the first book (here), I didn’t really care for many aspects of it. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to read the sequel. I ended up finding it at one of the libraries here in NYC and decided to give it a shot. My honest opinion? It was actually really good!

Let’s talk about the main character first. My biggest issue with the first book was Ash. I could not stand him. This is one of the very few books (which I can count on one hand) where the main character ruined the book. In this book he was actually almost the exact opposite from the first one. He isn’t necessarily strong, but he isn’t weak by any means. He feels guilt for things that have happened (albeit misplaced) and desires to fix his mistakes. And he does it without whining and crying the whole time. He follows his feelings despite them getting him into more trouble at times. His reactions are realistic and understandable. He is honourable. Parvati, John, and Savage are still only secondary characters and are around sporadically.

The story was quite interesting. Like the first one, it was clearly well developed and a lot of research was done. I found the caste system for the rakshasas fascinating with how certain types of animal determined their place in the caste. I also liked what the Koh-I-Noor did to people (no spoilers). It was a great way to use modern ideas in a historical situation. And the ending! Oh my goodness the ending! All I will say is it is a cliffhanger!

The writing style hasn’t changed much from the first one though. While it isn’t the best writing, it is easy to read. Though if I wasn’t mistaken, the writing style seemed to improve the further into the book I got. That’s a plus. The description is also adequate and works for it. I mean, it’s a YA book so it shouldn’t need to be complex and overwhelmingly descriptive.

Overall, I was very much impressed with the second book of the series. Ash was a much better character, the story was well crafted, and it ended with a bang. I already have the third book reserved at the library. Whatever your thoughts are about the first book, the second book will not disappoint. Easy 4/5. Enjoy 😉

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