Feb 262024
Review: The Misadventures of a Diamond Thief – A culinary caper that’s more than a heist!
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Title: The Misadventures of a Diamond Thief
Author: Lubaina Bandukwala
Publisher: Puffin
Type: Paperback
Pages: 176 pages
Age group: 8-12 years (but even older readers will enjoy this one!)

The story of a reluctant thief er… aspiring chef er… time-traveling djinn!

I haven’t read all the stories from Arabian Nights or from Vikram and Betal – but I loved the worlds it created. A lot of stories I was told as a child or even the ones I read, intertwined historical references with stuff that legends are made of. Of course a king was there, a queen was there and so was a princess. But more importantly there were djinns and ghouls and sorcerers and magicians, and legendary landscapes.

These intermingled, effortlessly, though not always rationally with the real people. But then that’s the whole fun of it – isn’t it? And all these stories whether it was Betal or whether it was Shéhérazade, had a very strong narrator voice. A voice that made you listen to the story and just like the King from Arabian Nights, make you ask, “Pachhi” (Gujarati for what next?)

The Misadventures of a Diamond Thief reminded me of those stories. It took me to that place in childhood, that blended history and reality so easily. The story itself is that of Sahabzada Hawa Singh Rafu Chakkar (Rafu), a Time-Travelling, Thieving Djinn (TTTD) who comes from a lineage of proud and accomplished thieves (a family of TTTDs!). Like all proud and accomplished (and pushy) parents, they obviously want their son to carry their legacy forward.

But hai hai! Rafu of course doesn’t want that.

He wants to become a chef.

Chef? That has to be a hobby na? Or so the parents scoff.

To win their approval, Rafu embarks on a mission to steal the most dazzling diamond in Hyderabad – a task that takes him across different realms and timelines, far from his desired kitchen kingdom. But Rafu’s no naive lad. He has his own reasons for wanting to visit Golconda, the land of Nizams and Nawabs – a land that sounds like a symphony to his taste buds.

Thus begins his mission.

Relatable much? Fantasy much?

I chuckled my way through his escapades, wondering if he’d ever succeed in his mission. Seriously, the aroma of the khansaama’s cooking, the spices bubbling in the pots, was enough to distract even the most determined diamond thief! So, which dream does he ultimately fulfill? I devoured the book to find out, the narrator guiding me through the bustling streets of Hyderabad and up the majestic Charminar. Along the way, I met a cast of characters with backstories as quirky as their names – and Rafu’s main nemesis, believe it or not, is a horse! This sassy steed seems to mock him, laugh at him, tail him and even Neighs at all his diamond thieving ventures. Rafu is lovable as is the rascal horse.

The final pages leave us with lingering questions that resonate beyond the narrative. Should we be pursue a field we excel at, even if it doesn’t spark joy? Should we prioritize chasing our dreams, even if they lead us down unfamiliar paths? And perhaps most importantly, the book challenges us to consider: does true happiness lie in external validation of our talents, or in the internal satisfaction of pursuing them purely for the love of it? I LOVED that about the book!

I love stories that take you to a land of dreams and tell of worlds that suspend your disbelief for that time. And Lubaina’s The Misadventures of a Diamond Thief is exactly that. I read it all in Lubaina’s voice, wrapped in a blanket of nostalgia, transported like the time-travelling thief djinn to my childhood when fantasy and reality intertwined seamlessly like a daydream.

Also, I did NOT see the end coming!

I giggled right through. I took my time with it, but my 10 year old read it in one sitting.

Her verdict – very funny. Though she did wonder if Rafu would cook the diamond.

If you enjoyed this review and can’t wait to sink your fangs into the book, you should order it from Amazon (kbc affiliate link),


Disclaimer: Mandira is part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this book as a review copy from the publisher via kbc. She is the author of the award winning book Children of the Hidden Land.

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