Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mattie Spyglass and the Curse of Ashurnasirpal by Shoba Sreenivasan- A Review

Mattie Spyglass and the Curse of Ashurnasirpal
By Shoba Sreenivasan

I think the sentence that most appropriately summarizes this book comes on page 405 at the end of Chapter 17, "The Great Battle would now begin." The second book in the Mattie Spyglass series is truly an epic battle of good versus evil. If you are new to the Mattie Spyglass series, I recommend checking out my review of the first book, Mattie Spyglass and the 8 Magic Stones.

Book 2 in this series begins as Mattie has a nightmare about her mother being kidnapped, and as her mother disappears she warns, "Look for the flying frog to find me." Mattie wakes up and finds herself, Mr. Biddle, and her friends Geeta and Eddie beginning the journey on the third stone on the Path of the Virtuous. The Third Stone represents anger, and though they began on a stone with chanting Buddhas warning them of their journey, the adventurers soon are catapulted into an epic path to find Mattie's mother and father, who had been captured by the villain, Uri Gneezy. However, this path is a particularly difficult one to navigate because Mr. Herman Biddle, the old wizard who has traveled with the children to protect them from Uri Gneezy, has to leave the children to seek back-up assistance. While he is gone, the children are catapulted into the path the Third Stone has chosen.

The journey takes the reader across the span of time, as the world as we know it catapults into Chaos. All that once was is now being rewritten, events are changing, and the children find themselves responsible for and responding to these traumatic movements of time. It is in this second book that we firmly discover that the Spyglass that Mattie holds in her hand has ulterior motives.
"For now. Mattie thought ruefully that there seemed to be way more rat fink in the Spyglass than good guy. Or good girl, seeing as how the Spyglass to be a she. Mattie remembered she had forgotten all about having a "talk" with the Spyglass about doing what she was told to do and made a mental note to do so as soon as possible."  
Even after the Spyglass tries to rid herself of Mattie, Mattie and the Spyglass find themselves intrinsically stuck together. It seems as though all is lost, as Mattie desperately travels across time and into the depths of the underworld in search of her parents. But, having set time into Chaos, Mattie is expected to save much more than just her parents, all that is good is counting on her and her friends to save the world from all that is evil.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this second book. Much like the first book, the story is heavily wrapped in religion and history. I am amazed at how well researched the book is. Ironically, there is a heavy emphasis on Russian history, which I knew very little about. However, given the recent news events, I found myself digging into Russian history books to cross reference things I heard in the news and read in the book. In particular, towards the end of the book, I found the thoughts of the character Stal to be incredibly haunting.
"Stal thought with certainty, If you tell them what to think, they will, for people were sheep, and he had read their hearts, filled with anger and envy. ... Soon they would believe that good was evil and evil good." 
This second book is much darker and complex than the first, similar to how the Harry Potter books get progressively darker. This series is definitely for an advanced reader for both the high reading level and the concepts. This is the type of book that when read a second time provides new understanding. I am looking forward to reading this book again and delving more into some of the historical and religious references.

Ms. Sreenivasan's book is intelligently written, drawing from many of the world religions and various historical events over the course of written history. This book would make a compelling companion fiction read to go with a world history or world religion class. I recommend this book for the 12 and older reader who has already had some background knowledge on world history.

* I was given this book free-of-charge by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. This sounds interesting!

    I, too, find the situation in Russia interesting in terms of history. I had recently read about WWII... I've across some really good interviews about Crimea on NPR that I found really enlightening. I'm pretty sure they were both done with the same expert so I took note of her name when I heard the second one, Kimberly Marten from Barnard College. If you're interested, here's a link to one of them:
    The second one was probably on The World or Morning edition and it was more recent...

    1. Thanks so much for the link! I am a total NPR addict, but somehow I missed this one. They do indeed have great interviews about Crimea.


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