Of light and shadow

Tanaz Bhathena

Book - 2023

"Of Light and Shadow is a novel about magic, mayhem, love, and betrayal-the story of a bandit and a prince who change each other in unexpected ways. "--

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Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Bhathena Tanaz Checked In
Fantasy fiction
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux 2023.
Main Author
Tanaz Bhathena (author)
First edition
Physical Description
433 pages : map ; 24 cm
Ages 12-18.
Grades 10-12.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A spoiled prince and an infamous outlaw forge an unlikely alliance in this dazzling adventure by Bhathena (the Wrath of Ambar series), set, according to an author's note, in a fantastical version of 17th-century India. Roshan Chaya, an orphan raised by the feared Shadow Bandit, has succeeded her adopted father as leader of the Shadow Clan, a gang of marauders fighting to reclaim their land from the oppressive regime ruling the kingdom of Jwala. When happenstance leads Roshan to inebriated Jwalian Prince Navin--who is half human and half mythological peri--Roshan kidnaps Navin. She believes, with him as her hostage, that she can force Jwala's cold, indifferent ruler to meet the clan's demands. But Navin, gifted with persuasive soul magic, proves a worthy match for Roshan's own innate abilities. The two engage in a game of scheming and manipulation as they suppress their undeniable attraction for each other and test their individual allegiances. A heavy dependance on exposition and in-world, glossary-reliant terminology muddles an otherwise engaging plot, but enthralling action sequences, intricate magic systems, and steamy romance make for an urgent adventure. Characters read as having central Indian ethnicity. Ages 12--up. Agent: Eleanor Jackson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (May)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Bhathena draws on Indian mythology in this fantasy to tell the love story of a bandit and a prince. Roshan Chaya is an orphaned, 18-year-old healer with deep brown skin and red-black hair. Although she is young, she leads the Shadow Clan, a group of bandits who are campaigning to right the wrong perpetrated against the poorest provinces of Jwala. Roshan knows to be cautious when she meets Jwala's golden-eyed Prince Rajkumar Navin--a soul magus--and yet she finds herself drawn to his song. The two teens exist on opposite sides of a political divide that they must cross if they are to bring about justice for Jwala while also finding happiness for themselves. As the author notes, this novel reimagines India's colonial past, incorporating elements of Zoroastrianism to fabricate a vivid and politically complex backdrop for the teens' story. While the romance in this book has a somewhat predictable arc, the author does a fine job rounding out the main characters by delving into their respective backstories. Overall, this book offers a vibrant new take on male-centric bandit myths like Robin Hood. VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoy strong heroines, romance, and political intrigue combined with fantastical worldbuilding.--Talea Anderson

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A teen bandit thrust into leadership of her clan fights for justice, dignity, and restoration of her people's rights. Orphaned at birth, adopted, and brought up by the leader of the Shadow Clan, Roshan's innate healing powers take a back seat to guerilla raids for their survival. One such raid leads to the capture of Prince Navin, a gadabout royal second in line to the throne. The clan hopes to barter his freedom to stop crushing blood tithes and reclaim their land. Atrocities by the governors' marauding army have turned once-fertile valleys into barren wastelands where villagers face starvation, violence, and displacement. While the prince tries to use his magic to secure his escape, the poverty and desperation he witnesses ignite a spark of awareness alongside growing attraction to his captor. The alternating voices of the prince and the rebel pit the power and corruption of the privileged against the hardship, steely determination, and hope of people fighting for their birthright. The evocative writing reveals a magical world of rugged landscapes, underground caverns, dark magic, political machinations, surprising plot twists, diverse peoples, and deeply seated prejudices that reflect contemporary times. While the quest for resolution takes a slightly naïve turn, the historical inspirations of real-life bandits and Indian and Persian mythology create a spellbinding fantasy. An enchanting romantic fantasy weaving together history, magic, and inspired resistance. (glossary, author's note) (Fantasy. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.