“It happened not in a parallel world but in an orthogonal one…”
From the very first line, The Sorcerer of Mandala sets high expectations for the rest of the book. It promises to be clever, quirky, and hilarious. I am happy to report that it met every one of those promises.The kingdom of Orum, thanks to some wishful thinking and careless wish-granting Gods, has been isolated from the rest of the world. When this isolation starts to have some rather disastrous effects on the population, Vikram, his fiancee Ponni, and his friends –Kalla, the thief, and Bana, the playwright, set off on a quest to save Orum. They are joined by some incredibly colourful characters, human and otherwise, as they do battle, solve puzzles, and generally get into trouble.
Reading The Sorcerer of Mandala, was a deeply nostalgic experience for me. A lot within these pages reminded me of stories I heard from my grandparents growing up. Indeed, a lot of the characters and themes we see in traditional folk-tales and (Indian) mythology show up here –be it rishis (sages) with anger issues, talking animals, or curses that can only be lifted if someone does something heroic.
The book is recommended for ages 14 and up, but I as an adult enjoyed it thoroughly. The writing is funny, witty and clever. It’s after quite some time that I’ve read a book that made me laugh out loud at times, or chuckle quietly to myself at other times. A shout out here to the illustrations too, which are beautiful. Each chapter opens with a small illustration, often having something to do with what happens in the chapter.
Although the book can easily be understood and followed by those unfamiliar with the myths and folk tradition on which the book is based, prior knowledge of these does increase one’s enjoyment. In some places, the author seems to be winking at the reader mischieviously, with a “see what I did there” flourish–which one can catch IF one knows where the idea came from. Readers whose mother-tongue is Tamil will find a depth to this book that others will miss. For example, just the names of some of the characters- Kalla (thief), Asadu (foolish) etc. However, to reiterate, even readers unfamiliar with Tamil or Indian folk/mythology have enough to take away from this book.
The Sorcerer of Mandala is a zany, fun book. It is a wonderful addition to the ranks of diverse books for children, and a great gift to give to a 14+ year old.
FTC disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.
Author Bio: http://www.dkalyanaraman.com/#about
Illustrator Bio: https://www.raghavakk.com/biography.html
About the Publisher: https://yalibooks.com/about/
Chapter Preview: https://yalibooks.com/books/the-sorcerer-of-mandala/