I am a fan of Roshani Chokshi—even though I’ve only read The Gilded Wolves but come on, it was perfection—and have been eyeing this middle-grade fantasy series for a while. Though, I couldn’t bring myself to pick it up since I was afraid I wouldn’t resonate with the character demographic. Oh, how wrong was I? After an year of really wanting to jump into the first book of Aru Shah, I finally gave in and two books later, I find myself gushing about the third instalment as part of a blog tour!
Aru Shah and the End of Time ★★★★★
This is perfection. And the only thing I regret is not having such an amazing Hindu-mythology infused present-day fantasy with the most relatable & cute lot of brave young heroines when I was of the same age because this would have definitely shaped me better as a preadolescent, I SWEAR.
See which Readathons I have counted this book for here.
Aru Shah and the Song of Death ★★★★★
This book is perfection and not just because it gives me a middle-grade fiction woven with Hindu myths & legends that I have grown up reading or listening but because it is written in a way that the young audience
and a vast majority of adults too can easily see important themes like body shaming, bashing gender stereotypes, accepting pronouns that an individual chooses, and bullying from a right lens.
See which Readathons I have counted this book for here.
REVIEW OF ARU SHAH AND THE TREE OF WISHES BY ROSHANI CHOKSHI
Title: Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes (Pandava Quintet #3)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Date of Publish: April 7, 2020
War between the devas and the demons is imminent, and the Otherworld is on high alert. When intelligence from the human world reveals that the Sleeper is holding a powerful clairvoyant and her sister captive, 14-year-old Aru and her friends launch a search-and-rescue mission. The captives, a pair of twins, turn out to be the newest Pandava sisters, though, according to a prophecy, one sister is not true.
During the celebration of Holi, the heavenly attendants stage a massage PR rebranding campaign to convince everyone that the Pandavas are to be trusted. As much as Aru relishes the attention, she fears that she is destined to bring destruction to her sisters, as the Sleeper has predicted. Aru believes that the only way to prove her reputation is to find the Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree that came out of the Ocean of Milk when it was churned.
If she can reach it before the Sleeper, perhaps she can turn everything around with one wish.
Careful what you wish for, Aru . . .
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes is a third in the series that so gracefully empowers young girls and sensitises young boys by weaving an adventurous & emotional story through the beautifully complex fabric of Hindu mythology set in the modern times.
Representation: Gujrati Indian-American MC, Indian-Filipino-American MC, South Indian-American MC, Hindu MC.
Ownvoices: Indian & Hindu representation.
Trigger Warnings: guilt at a young age, absent parent, death by poison, parent abandonment, foster care sadness, action sequences, almost deadly experiences.
LET’S WELCOME A CLAIRVOYANT, A BOTANICAL MANIPULATOR, AND A PRINCE TO THE SQUAD.
While we had an excellent group of tweens in the previous two books, the Tree of Wishes adds even more excellency in the form of Nakul & Sahdev reincarnations and a Naga-Loka prince. Nikita and Sheela are introduced after an acrophobia-inducing stunt pulled off by Aru and Mini as part of the ‘little’ life-saving tasks they now procure as Pandavas. Soon after, Nikita is projecting her chlorokinesis and Sheela is prophesying the future.
To spike the humour and fashion points of this group, Rudy—yes, that cool music-playing Naga boy from Song of Death who asked for Aru’s number—joins the Pandavas as a…Pandava-adjacent adjacent since he’s the cousin of Aiden. And when on a journey so adventurous, he makes sure to flaunt his love for some beats and being a prince as long as it’s all about using the title in authoritarian dialogues.
FIND THE LOST TREE OF WISHES AND SAVE THE WORLD FROM A WALKING DEMON—THE SLEEPER
After hunting for three keys while travelling through the Kingdom of Death in End of Time and after searching for a dangerous thief to clear the allegations on them in Song of Death, the story is all about finding a hidden wish-granting tree, Kalpvriksha, in this third instalment before the Sleeper makes a wish on it and leads to destruction.
But now, the group can’t seek help by using their true identities or keep their mentor Gods—Urvashi and Hanuman—informed for emergency responses. Basically, it’s a secret mission counting down to the fifth day when, if things are not set right, Holi celebrations might not be as fulfilling as one usually excepts them to be.
THESE KIDS ARE GROWING AND THE DEVELOPMENT MIGHT MAKE YOU TEARY-EYED
Tree of Wishes really delves into Aru’s emotional perspective as the main protagonist whose point of view we witness, but it’s a pleasure to see others crossing bridges and reflecting character enhancement. For a large part of the book, Aru’s mind is fogged with the possibility of being grimly hinted at in the prophecy that Sheela pronounced, followed by a lot of self-questioning and doubt stemming from her lineage or birth father. She feels a lot and that makes you feel a lot too.
Simultaneously, Mini’s borderline neurotic personality makes some space to define her as a sensitive, calm yet fierce component of this group by moving a serenely sweet limelight on her. Brynne’s almost aggressive reflexes give an even clearer picture of ‘don’t mess with those I love’ than her debut in the previous book did. Aiden has built a more brooding personality from the silent nature he first projected in Song of Death, but remains to be a young boy worth looking up to for his compassion…and the way he subtly places Aru Shah in the friend zone
no, I’m not going to ship middle-grade characters.
While this is Nikita and Sheela’s first appearance in the series, they can win you heart right off the bat with almost opposite personalities (a soft twin & a stern twin) and well, because they’re younger than the others so cuteness points can easily be awarded. In addition, they have an underlying sadness from being children of the Otherworldly Foster Care System so some walls around their hearts can initially be expected. Rudy makes for a self-obsessed novelty who has a better reason for wanting to be on this quest than he lets on as a fashionably egotistical teen boy.
CREDITS TO THESE OTHERWORLDLY PERSONNEL FOR MAKING A SPECIAL APPEARANCE IN THIS HINDU MYTHOLOGY BASED FICTION
Much like the first two books, this one also destines the squad to encounter ethereal as well as muddy beings that have been a part of the myths & legends. From a dangerous encounter with Rahu-Ketu (custodians of the Crypt of Eclipses) to a weirdly funny conversation with Shani (the Saturn God)
where the Twilight book is being sarcastically bashed, the story keeps you entertained with more and more names that one might’ve only heard about in Hindu epics.
Similarly, some tales are also recited or incorporated like those with Vishnu (the God of preservation; one of three main deities) reincarnations in the form of Narsimha and Mohini, or how Chandra (the Moon God) ended up with twenty-seven wives. If you were always interested to know why snakes and birds can’t get along but want a mythological explanation, Garuda—the half-eagle half-human vahana (vehicle) of Vishnu—takes the centre stage to narrate a story.
WARNING: IF YOU READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS, YOU WILL PICK UP THIS ONE AND ONCE YOU’RE DONE READING THIS, YOU WILL BE EAGERLY AWAITING THE NEXT ONE!
Overall, Tree of Wishes is yet another great tale in a series all about brave heroines and their side-kicks embarking on a journey filled with exciting mythological personas, terrifying possibilities, a lot of young fun, and strengthened ties that can pull them out through the other end once they save the mortal realm and the Otherworld.
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this via my participation in a blog tour but that, in no way, affects my rating and/or views about this gem. Thank you, Rockstar Book Tours & Rick Riordan Presents!
Roshani Chokshi is the author of the instant New York Times best-selling books in the Pandava series, Aru Shah and the End of Time, and its sequel, Aru Shah and the Song of Death. She also wrote the New York Times best-selling YA books The Star-Touched Queen and The Gilded Wolves. She studied fairy tales in college, and she has a pet luck dragon that looks suspiciously like a Great Pyrenees dog.
The Pandava novels were inspired by the stories her grandmother told her as well as Roshani’s all-consuming love for Sailor Moon. She lives in the south and says “y’all,” but she doesn’t really have a Southern accent.