Fictional kingdom, witty royals, secret recipes, an evil king and his cunning plan…this new book for teens has got all the ingredients right.
The Deadly Royal Recipe by Ranjit Lal is an adventure story that is based in the imaginary kingdom of Kamargarh — a kingdom whose royal family is famous for its incredible food with top-secret recipes which have all been chronicled in a secret recipe book Master Book that has been passed down from generation to generation as a precious heirloom.
Thirteen-year-old Zafira, the lonely princess of Kamargarh, has just joined school and discovered friendship after years of being tutored at home.
Things are going on wonderfully for her and her new friends (Lana, Ragini, Yogita, and Yogita’s little brother, Barfi), until they become victims to the evil neighbouring kingdom’s Raja’s plot to steal the Master Book by kidnapping them for ransom.
How Zafira and her friends use their wits to get themselves out of the danger they’re in whilst ensuring that the book doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, forms the core of the book.
The plot by itself is excellent — it is simple, smart and manages to sustain our interest throughout. The characters’ personalities are drawn out well without slowing the pace of the narrative.
Perhaps the most important protagonist in the book after Zafira, is the legendary food of Kamargarh. The author has been liberal in his descriptions of the many recipes which feature in the book, which are not only delightful but also make you work up an appetite! The ingenious little twist in the plot at the end adds to the positives.
My biggest gripe with the book is the language that is liberally employed by the characters which betrays both their age as well as the audience it is intended for.
I’d assume its function was probably to highlight the intensity of the situation, but it just doesn’t work. The author also attributes certain habits to the “bad” guys, which is understandable, because they are the bad guys after all, but having a 13-year-old make references to one of the bad guys’ drinking ability is probably better suited for a mature dark comedy as opposed to a book meant for preteens.
Overall, I found the book to be a breezy, entertaining read for young and old alike.
Title: The Deadly Royal Recipe
Author: Ranjit Lal
Price: Rs. 225