DasGupta, Sayantani. The Serpent’s Secret. Illustrations by Vivienne To. (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series, book 1). Scholastic, 2018. 338 pages. $17.99. ISBN 9781338185706. Ages 9-14. P8Q7
Parsippany, New Jersey sixth grader Kiran’s twelfth birthday brings monsters—huge, snot-dripping rakkhosh—instead of cake and the expected party, along with two princes, and the abduction of her parents, leading her into a multi-dimension adventures based, in part, on tales from Bengali folklore. Flying horses, classes by Einstein, and the discovery that her father is the infamous Serpent King, make Kiran’s hero’s journey a delight.
Verdict: Kiran is a delightful contradiction—an all-American bi-cultural preteen whose intelligence, empathy and physical courage allow her to save the princes as often as they rescue her. My one caveat is that, though author thanks the proofreader, there is a consistent error. The word for the long straps leading from the bit of a bridle is “rein”—not “reign”—which is misused throughout the book. (I hope this will be corrected in the expected sequels and in later printings of this most excellent fantasy.) Highly recommended for elementary, middle and public library collections. This one is fun.
June 2018 review by Jane Cothron.