This intense young-adult epic pits a group of teens against demons, deities and the forces of nature.
Vineyard’s (Setting Up Your Shots, 2008) first novel brims with mythic power without forgetting the contemporary world. After their new friend, Nayana, disappears into a strange portal with a dark abductor, lifelong friends Masha and Thomas stumble upon a mysterious land where great heroes and deities are preparing for a world-shaking battle. Behind them follows Vanya, Masha’s uncle, an expert lock picker (locks recur as a leitmotif in the novel). A host of friends and enemies awaits the transplants, from wanted-thief Samuel Windspring to Irkalla, queen of storms. The friends quickly find Nayana, but the way home remains unclear, their destinies now bound to the gathering war with the Asuras—the demonic forces of Yama, lord of death. The group searches for a living weapon known as a Deva, which can perhaps defeat the Asura threat, as they traverse exotic locales on their journey, including Baudas, city of knowledge, and the Meadow Infinite. Many of the beings they encounter emerge directly from Vedic mythology and the Mahabharata, the Hindu lore that serves as excellent source material for a story about epic clashes. For a relatively short novel, the plot’s velocity is dizzying at times, but Vineyard packs in an abundance of characters and background. With so much happening, he rarely has time to slow down and describe the magical world’s landscape. Occasional flashbacks to the ancient past dot the narrative, but their abruptness and lack of clarification sometimes confuse rather than illuminate the story, even though Vineyard’s lyrical style will keep readers consistently engaged. Further chapters could allow this world to more fully unfold; in the meantime, however, this superb read provides a powerful adventure.
Deep myths and thrilling magic that will excite young readers.