Preetha Vasan’s latest book, The Chronicles of the Crimson One, an action-packed YA fantasy novel, is an interesting blend of mythology, legends, and histories in an Indian setting.
The story draws flavours from The Chronicles of Narnia, Vishnu Purana, and the stories of Prahlada.
Pavithra, a young girl who is not only unpopular at school but also the victim of teasing and bullying is the main protagonist in this story. Her thick curly hair always lands her in trouble, and her stutter doesn’t make life any easier. One day to escape a gang of bullies, she hides in a trunk in the school library. Much to her annoyance, another boy, Kayla is hiding there too. And thus starts this magical adventure as the kids are transported to another world. A world filled with giant walking trees, talking eagles, Yakshas, and a Prince. A universe where a tyrannical king rules, suppressing the Daityas and Yakshas. It is in this oppressive world, that Pavithra discovers her strength and Kayla’s identity.
Preetha’s immersive writing makes this novel deeply atmospheric, and it feels vivid and meaningful. Acceptance, bravery, friendship, forgiveness, and bullying are a few of the themes the author has explored. The story moves in two timelines–one, the present world where Pavithra is a regular school student and the other one is set in an alternate universe where she finds herself in a spellbinding world.
Though the plotline is fascinating, the first 30% of the novel drags a bit. I felt if two timelines had colluded a bit earlier the narration would have become more gripping. The unique nomenclature of the various species (Pakshahas, Vrkshakas, Thrnas, etc.) lends authenticity to the setting, but it took me a while to get familiar with them.
Both my daughters, aged 14 and 17, read this novel. While the younger one lost interest mid-way as she felt it was too descriptive, the older one, a true-blue Potterhead, thoroughly enjoyed the storyline and setting.
Preetha lends a contemporary touch to the age-old characters and makes them fresh, relatable, and accessible to today’s young readers.
The Chronicles of the Crimson One is an enjoyable read. I hope Preetha has planned to make this a series. It would be interesting to read more about Pavithra’s and Kayla’s adventures.
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