Book Review: The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda

The Savage FortressThe Savage Fortress
Sarwat Chadda
Arthur A. Levine Books, October 2012


It’s not easy being 13.  Ash (Ashoka Mistry), a chubby boy of Indian descent living in England, knows this very well.  He is teased because of his weight, his lunch money is stolen; he feels constantly taunted.   Actually, this is the easy part.  Ash believes that his summer visit with an aunt and uncle in India, accompanied only by his 10 year old sister, Lucky, holds promise.  He is mistaken.

The Savage Fortress introduces middle-grade readers to some of the most fascinating Hindu gods and goddesses.  This quick-paced tale features the ultimate bad guy.  Lord Alexander Savage, despite having learned the magic he’s used to live for thousands of years, wants more.  He wants immortality.  His determination to obtain his desire puts him on a quest to find the tomb of Ravana, the demon king.   Savage is more than willing to become the demon king’s slave, in exchange for this small favour.  He is very close now, nothing would dare intervene.  He will not be stopped.

It takes only a short while in India for Ash to understand that things are not what they seem.  His uncle’s boss, Lord Savage, seems odd beyond eccentric…… a chilling, creepy kind of way.  Savage’s staff is worse.  They seem to stare at Ash and Lucky with eyes of reptiles, birds or furry jungle predators.  Due to the exponentially increasing weirdness, Ash tends to stay as far away from Savage as humanly possible.  Not a great plan.

Ash takes a tumble that will change him forever………..errrr, at least in this life-time.  Accidentally uncovering the one thing Savage needs to proceed, Ash instantly has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  As he begins to recall past existences, he begins to see things more clearly.

The unlikely associates that Ash befriends as he embarks on this journey add a dash of spice to an already hot story.  The internal and external struggles that Ash must face bring in a bittersweet undertone.  This is absolutely one of the best books, particularly for the genre, that I have ever read.  I would have devoured this book when I was in junior high.

Reviewed by jv poore, October 2012.