• Alisa Williams

Book Review: Aru Shah and the End of Time



A Review of Aru Shah and the End of Time (A Pandava Novel Book 1)

Written by Roshani Chokshi

Rick Riordan Presents (Disney-Hyperion), 2018

Buy Now on Amazon: Hardcover | Kindle

I’m a huge fan of Rick Riordan and so have been looking forward to his imprint, “Rick Riordan Presents” with great anticipation. I love Riordan’s goal which is to “publish great books by middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage.”

Aru Shah and the End of Time (A Pandava Novel Book 1) is the first release from this newest imprint by Disney-Hyperion, and it does a fantastic job catapulting readers into the massive world of Hindu mythology. I know just enough about Hindu gods and goddesses to feel overwhelmed by all the many names and stories, so I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. But author Roshani Chokshi expertly weaves the basics into the story while at the same time layering in enough complexity that I imagine even seasoned experts in Hindu mythology will be captivated.

Chokshi is a breath of fresh air to middle grade fiction. Main character Aru Shah, a 12-year-old Indian-American girl living in Atlanta, is relatable and hilarious. Aru lives in a small apartment inside the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, which her mother runs. She’s in seventh grade at a private school and feels out of place among her rich classmates who wear the latest fashions and take international vacations with their families. Aru also feels lonely a lot of the time. She’s an only child and her mom is distant and distracted when she is home, which isn’t very often because she’s constantly traveling for work, leaving Aru with only a babysitter and a giant stone elephant for company. Aru’s never known her father, but knows this isn’t a subject her mom is comfortable discussing.

This all changes one day when a big lie leads Aru to make an even bigger mistake. She lights an ancient cursed lamp in the museum to impress her classmates and accidentally releases the Sleeper, a demon set on destroying the world. Oops.

Fortunately, Aru quickly learns (with the help of a talking pigeon) that she is a reincarnation of one of the famous Pandavas, five legendary heroes in Hindu mythology. Now she must search out the others and hope that together they can save the world from utter destruction. On her quest, she meets some of the most famous names in Hindu mythology who help (and hinder) her mission.

I was really excited to learn Roshani Chokshi has written several other books in addition to Aru Shah, and I will definitely be adding those to my reading list. Her writing style is energetic and witty. I definitely saw similarities to Riordan’s writing style, but Chokshi has a strong voice all her own, and I can’t wait to see where she takes Aru’s story in the next book.

This review originally appeared on NetGalley. I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review of this title.

Alisa Williams is the managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org. She blogs at alisawilliamswrites.com and tweets at @AWWritesStories.

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©2020 by Alisa Williams