Title: The Prophecy – Sands of Time Book One
Author: Payal Dhar
Publisher: Speaking Tiger YA (Young Adult)
Age group: 12 years+ Maybe mature 10+ readers under guidance for mentions of menstruation, some violence and cuss words.
Maya is a twelve-year-old struggling, like most kids her age, with growing up. For her, it means dealing with bullies, online school an annoying elder brother and of course her expectations from herself. The book starts with what seems like a dream where she’s in some sort of a bowl and a very alien place. It felt like a recurring dream.
Just that it wasn’t.
From here, starts her journey to discover an alternate world ‘Olaman’ where she realizes that ‘Roz’ – the world as we know it, and everything else, is in danger of coming to an end. That the sands of time just might stop. Noah, the “freakishly tall man”, who takes her to this alternate world, is her own personal Halvard who is helping her train to be a Halvard – someone who will help protect the sands of time.
What a gripping and thrilling adventure this was. The worlds of Olaman with its illusions and Spirits, are vividly painted making it world come alive in front of your eyes. This book felt very real to me. I must confess, I am not a sci-fi or fantasy person, but I found the book quite un-putdownable. Perhaps because of how some parts managed to move me so much.
Grief, and being with a person who is grieving, has always been very difficult for me. There was a certain rawness that Payal has brought in while talking about Maya’s friend’s grief and her support towards her friend in his hour of need, that makes the whole feeling very real and poignant. As I read that, I wondered how I would review something that felt so personal in some parts.
And almost prophetically, a few pages down, she talks about subjective reality.
“It’s less about others and more about us… about what we believe and why.“
Of course I cannot be unbiased—none of us can. Payal explains subjective-reality and bias beautifully, making it easy to understand.
I loved how constructs like time, subjective reality, biases in computers, predictions and probability are so well and simply explained in the book that the logician in me was deeply satiated. But then, that’s what good books do right? Tease you on various aspects. Not just the story.
And what a story! Fantastic. If a story has an element of fantasy in it, I can’t help but talk about Harry Potter. My major issue with that was how reckless Dumbledore seemed to be towards his students. But not this one. I loved how Noah, Maya’s guardian, gets a good thrashing from her guardian for not taking good enough care to ensure Maya was safe. I loved how prophecies don’t always come true and that destinies are probabilistic.
But the highlight of the book was Maya’s journey from struggling with her identity to handling it like a boss. But even with her growth, I loved how many things, her basic character, like her empathy, anger remain the same. In the beginning she struggles with her expectations of herself and so does she right at the end. That too, right after she’s fought the warrior of the shadows and poured life into her mentor. Parts where Maya is being Noah’s life-giving force, I felt, was very movingly written. It felt very personal to me as well. My subjective reality reminded me of a role of a care-giver and how draining it can be.
Payal excels in weaving emotive bits into this story that is thrilling, fantastic, and thought provoking.
My only issue with the book was the first chapter – perhaps because I felt I haven’t read more of fantasy. It felt a little difficult to read. But that’s me. My daughter sneaked the book while I was working and had no issues with any chapters. She loved Maya and she loved Noah.
And now, I can’t wait to see what she does with Maya in Book Two—The Key.
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Disclaimer: Mandira is part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this book as a review copy from the publisher. She is the author of the award winning book Children of the Hidden Land.