Fantasy fiction is a very popular and populated category. However, in the context of literature for children, this genre seemed grossly understated in India, though not anymore! The Magicians of Madh by Aditi Krishnakumar takes the reader into a magical realm set in Madh, a bustling magical metropolis.
In order to stand out from the scores of books in the genre, a novel needs to be really gripping. The original fantasy universe of Madh is the perfect canvas for this story to play out.
Madh is a fictional city set in the Free Lands. The Royal Academy of Science, Magic and the Arts is located here. This is the finest institution of higher education in all the free lands. But, something dark and sinister seems to have gripped the Academy. There is a creature in the vault. Is there terror waiting to be unleashed?
The brilliant Meenakshi and her foster brother Kalban are at the heart of the story. The story alternates between how both of them move towards resolving the issue that has struck the academy. With the help of Chitralekha, a celestial dancer, they work towards freeing the Academy from this pervasive evil that seems to have been unleashed. The book has a host of endearing characters, magical beings in their own right.
Paras, Meenakshi’s father is a Master Sorcerer, always immersed in his work. I found his character most interesting. He is serious and impatient..and fiercely dedicated to his craft. His actions and words also lead to a lot of subtly humorous situations. For instance, when an attacker comes to attack Meenakshi, but is caught, she turns the attacker into a tortoise. Instead of being worried about who sent the attacker and why in the first place, the father and daughter are busy discussing how she turned him into a reptile!
There is a lot of humour in the language and that adds to the charm of the book. I found myself chuckling on every page thanks to the humour that is quite intricately woven into the language. It’s subtle, but clever.
The sense of mystery and excitement builds up gradually and it is after half the book that things start really moving fast. Several knots tie up, many things come together and the mystery spirals towards its conclusion.
Normally, fantasy books have clear villains with well-defined motives. What I found interesting in The Magicians of Madh was the fact that the entire solving of the mystery takes on a philosophical angle. It delves into a bit of psychology, the understanding of which is crucial to solving the problem.
There is mystery and excitement in the book but it is not sinister and dark. Loads of humour thanks to the language and situations adds an element of fun. A worthy addition to the genre of fantasy fiction for young adults.
Title: The Magicians of Madh
Author: Aditi Krishnakumar
Publisher: Duckbill Books
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Age group: 10 upwards