Twins are always known to be together even when apart, but have you ever read a book where the relationship between a pair of twins is slightly uneven? Hidden under the sleeve of every argument or ignorant glance, siblings will always have affection for one another; that’s the true beauty of having someone related to you by birth, let alone grow to the same heartbeat! Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi is a book that encompasses magical wonders, presents foreign worlds in a new way, and represents sibling love! With seemingly unsolvable riddles, nightmares with hidden clues, and a new friend, the main protagonist, Rea, trudges her way to find her kidnapped twin brother, Rohan.
The story is set in Darjeeling, India, where Rea lives with her mother, grandmother, and Rohan. Rea was never born with a silver spoon. Her mother has to work long hours by cleaning houses or by picking tea leaves at a tea plantation, just to make a living. Having to live under her brother’s shadow, who excels at everything compared to her, Rea feels pressure and sibling rivalry. For as long as they can remember, Rea and Rohan have always celebrated their birthday together. However, this time around, things were different. When the clock strikes midnight, Rohan slips out of bed to play cricket with his friends on their twelfth birthday. Rea secretly follows him. Longing to partake in the sport, she joins the opposing team and emerges victorious. Following Rea’s victory, Rohan walks away– puddled in a cloud of embarrassment – and mysteriously goes missing!
Rohan’s disappearance and the strange reaction by her family to this untimely event left Rea suspicious. Holding herself responsible, she sets a new goal for herself: finding Rohan! As Rea sets out on her quest, she meets a fortune-teller and picks up clues on Rohan’s whereabouts. The story gains momentum as Rea discovers a mysterious portal in Darjeeling! With the help of her new friend, Rea embarks on a life-changing adventure, gripping onto the hope of finding her lost brother.
Books that involve the evolution of the main character as a person are inspiring and entertaining. Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is one such book that perfectly portrays character development. At the start of the book, Rea’s selfish and demanding nature left her lonely and self-contained. However, once she portals into the kingdom of Astranthia, she uncovers new secrets about her family. While entering the world, Rea only had one goal– saving Rohan. An encounter with the evil queen, Razya, leads to a change in plans; Rea has to protect the kingdom of Astranthia and save her twin! Astranthia thrives on the sacred petals of the Som, and its nectar is used by the royal family and some common folk as powerful beams. The only way to unlock the powers of the blood nectar is to go on a personal trial. After saving a mob of people who were hurt by the queen’s guard, Rea slowly starts uncovering all of the secrets about herself, including her family.
Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is a family-centered, magical tale. With the neatly woven theme of personal growth and perseverance, Payal Doshi can warm any reader’s heart with her well-organized plot twists. The captivating storyline ends with the celebration of Diwali in their village in Darjeeling. This Indian holiday celebrates the triumph of good over evil, resonating with Rea’s victory over the reign of Astranthia’s evil queen. Rea and the Blood of the Nectar explicitly reflects Payal Doshi’s culture-bound allusions and vivid imagery that revolves around show-stopping characters and a compelling self-growth theme!
Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi. Mango & Marigold Press, 2021. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!