Rick Riordan’s imprint introduces debuts cover for Roshani Chokshi’s ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME.
We posted some time ago that Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase author Rick Riordan is coming out with an imprint through Disney Hyperion, and now a cover has been revealed for its debut novel, Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi.
Chokshi is the author of YA novel The Star-Touched Queen and its sequel A Crown of Wishes, but Aru Shah and the End of Time is her first middle-grade novel. It is book one in the Pandava Quartet that “delves into Hindu mythology and is described as a mix of Riordan’s own Percy Jackson series and the Sailor Moon franchise.”
Riordan puts in the foreword of the book that though he found the book one of those he wish he could’ve written, he knows he couldn’t.
“It has everything I like: humor, action, great characters, and, of course, awesome mythology! But this is not a book I could have written. I just don’t have the expertise or the insider’s knowledge to tackle the huge, incredible world of Hindu mythology, much less make it so fun and reader-friendly.”
So, if you’ve enjoyed the mythologies that Rick Riordan has written about in this books, you’re likely to enjoy this book as well.
You can read an excerpt from the book below.
Excerpt from ‘Aru Shah and the End of Time,’ by Roshani Chokshi
In Which Aru Regrets Opening the Door
For as long as she could remember, Aru had lived in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. And she knew full well that the lamp at the end of the Hall of the Gods was not to be touched.
She could mention “the lamp of destruction” the way a pirate who had tamed a sea monster could casually say, Oh, you mean ole Ralph here? But even though she was used to the lamp, she had never once lit it. That would be against the rules. The rules she went over every Saturday, when she led the afternoon visitors’ tour.
Some folks may not like the idea of working on a weekend, but it never felt like work to Aru.
It felt like a ceremony.
Like a secret.
She would don her crisp scarlet vest with its three honeybee buttons. She would imitate her mother’s museum-curator voice, and people — this was the best part of all — would listen. Their eyes never left her face. Especially when she talked about the cursed lamp.
Sometimes she thought it was the most fascinating thing she ever discussed. A cursed lamp is a much more interesting topic than, say, a visit to the dentist. Although one could argue that both are cursed.
Aru had lived at the museum for so long, it kept no secrets from her. She had grown up reading and doing her homework beneath the giant stone elephant at the entrance. Often she’d fall asleep in the theater and wake up just before the crackling self-guided tour recording announced that India became independent from the British in 1947. She even regularly hid a stash of candy in the mouth of a four-hundred-year-old sea dragon statue (she’d named it Steve) in the west wing. Aru knew everything about everything in the museum. Except one thing…
The lamp. For the most part, it remained a mystery.
“It’s not quite a lamp,” her mother, renowned curator and archaeologist Dr. K. M. Shah, had told her the first time she showed it to Aru. “We call it a diya.”
Aru remembered pressing her nose against the glass case, staring at the lump of clay. As far as cursed objects went, this was by far the most boring. It was shaped like a pinched hockey puck. Small markings, like bite marks, crimped the edges. And yet, for all its normal-ness, even the statues filling the Hall of the Gods seemed to lean away from the lamp, giving it a wide berth.
“Why can’t we light it?” she had asked her mother.
Her mother hadn’t met her gaze. “Sometimes light illuminates things that are better left in the dark. Besides, you never know who is watching.”
Well, Aru had watched. She’d been watching her entire life.
Every day after school she would come home, hang her backpack from the stone elephant’s trunk, and creep toward the Hall of the Gods.
It was the museum’s most popular exhibit, filled with a hundred statues of various Hindu gods. Her mother had lined the walls with tall mirrors so visitors could see the artifacts from all angles. The mirrors were “vintage” (a word Aru had used when she traded Burton Prater a greenish penny for a whopping two dollars and half a Twix bar). Because of the tall crape myrtles and elms standing outside the windows, the light that filtered into the Hall of the Gods always looked a little muted. Feathered, almost. As if the statues were wearing crowns of light.
Aru would stand at the entrance, her gaze resting on her favorite statues — Lord Indra, the king of the heavens, wielding a thunderbolt; Lord Krishna playing his flutes; the Buddha, sitting with his spine straight and legs folded in meditation — before her eyes would inevitably be drawn to the diya in its glass case.
She would stand there for minutes, waiting for something . . . anything that would make the next day at school more interesting, or make people notice that she, Aru Shah, wasn’t just another seventh grader slouching through middle school, but someone extraordinary…
Aru was waiting for magic.
And every day she was disappointed.
“Do something,” she whispered to the god statues. It was a Monday morning, and she was still in her pajamas. “You’ve got plenty of time to do something awesome, because I’m on autumn break.”
The statues did nothing.
Aru shrugged and looked out the window. The trees of Atlanta, Georgia, hadn’t yet realized it was October. Only their top halves had taken on a scarlet-and-golden hue, as if someone had dunked them halfway in a bucket of fire and then plopped them back on the lawn.
As Aru had expected, the day was on its way to being uneventful. That should have been her first warning. The world has a tendency to trick people. It likes to make a day feel as bright and lazy as sun-warmed honey dripping down a jar as it waits until your guard is down…
And that’s when it strikes.
Moments before the visitor alarm rang, Aru’s mom had been gliding through the cramped two-bedroom apartment connected to the museum. She seemed to be reading three books at a time while also conversing on the phone in a language that sounded like a chorus of tiny bells. Aru, on the other hand, was lying upside down on the couch and pelting pieces of popcorn at her, trying to get her attention.
“Mom. Don’t say anything if you can take me to the movies.” Her mom laughed gracefully into the phone. Aru scowled.
Why couldn’t she laugh like that? When Aru laughed, she sounded like she was choking on air.
“Mom. Don’t say anything if we can get a dog. A Great Pyrenees. We can name him Beowoof!”
Now her mother was nodding with her eyes closed, which meant that she was sincerely paying attention. Just not to Aru.
“Mom. Don’t say anything if I—”
Her mother lifted a delicate eyebrow and stared at Aru. You know what to do. Aru did know what to do. She just didn’t want to do it.
She rolled off the couch and Spider-Man–crawled across the floor in one last bid to get her mother’s attention. This was a difficult feat considering that the floor was littered with books and half-empty chai mugs. She looked back to see her mom jotting something on a notepad. Slouching, Aru opened the door and headed to the stairs.
Monday afternoons at the museum were quiet. Even Sherrilyn, the head of museum security and Aru’s long-suffering babysitter on the weekends, didn’t come in on Mondays. Any other day — except Sunday, when the museum was closed — Aru would help hand out visitor stickers. She would direct people to the various exhibits and point out where the bathrooms were. Once she’d even had the opportunity to yell at someone when they’d patted the stone elephant, which had a very distinct Do Not Touch sign (in Aru’s mind, this applied to everyone who wasn’t her).
On Mondays she had come to expect occasional visitors seeking temporary shelter from bad weather. Or people who wanted to express their concern (in the gentlest way possible) that the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture honored the devil. Or sometimes just the FedEx man needing a signature for a package.
What she did not expect when she opened the door to greet the new visitors was that they would be three students from Augustus Day School. Aru experienced one of those elevator-stopping-too-fast sensations. A low whoosh of panic hit her stomach as the three students stared down at her and her Spider-Man pajamas.
The first, Poppy Lopez, crossed her tan, freckled arms. Her brown hair was pulled back in a ballerina bun. The second, Burton Prater, held out his hand, where an ugly penny sat in his palm. Already short and pale, Burton’s striped black-and-yellow shirt made him look like an unfortunate bumblebee. The third, Arielle Reddy — the prettiest girl in their class, with her dark brown skin and shiny black hair — simply glared.
“I knew it,” said Poppy triumphantly. “You told everyone in math class that your mom was taking you to France for break.”
That’s what mom had promised, Aru thought.
Last summer, Aru’s mother had curled up on the couch, exhausted from another trip overseas. Right before she fell asleep, she had squeezed Aru’s shoulder and said, “Perhaps I’ll take you to Paris in the fall, Aru. There’s a café along the Seine River where you can hear the stars come out before they dance in the night sky. We’ll go to boulangeries and museums, sip coffee from tiny cups, and spend hours in the gardens.”
That night Aru had stayed awake dreaming of narrow winding streets and gardens so fancy that even their flowers looked haughty. With that promise in mind, Aru had cleaned her room and washed the dishes without complaint. And at school, the promise had become her armor. All the other students at Augustus Day School had vacation homes in places like the Maldives or Provence, and they complained when their yachts were under repair. The promise of Paris had brought Aru one tiny step closer to belonging.