We asked some people who we know read a lot of Indian children’s and YA books to tell us about one (or more) really impressive book they read this year. We will be posting their replies over the rest of the month.
Himanjali Sankar is an editor and the author of books for children and young adults.
We are thrilled that Himanjali’s favourite is a Duckbill book, and we promise no arms were twisted–platypuses do not believe in list-fixing.
Queen of Ice by Devika Rangachari (Duckbill) is an astonishing and exquisite portrayal of Queen Didda – troubled, intelligent and ambitious – against a backdrop of court intrigue and political machinations in 11th century Kashmir. We are also privy to the story of Didda’s serving woman, Valga, strong, faithful but often critical, through which we are allowed one more window into the life of the ruthless yet wise ruler who fought to fulfil the destiny of greatness that was prophesied when she was born.
What makes this book particularly important is that it resurrects a remarkable Queen who was a ruthless and wise ruler for over five decades but subsequently relegated to a footnote in history as has often been the case with figures that don’t smoothly fit the requirements of mainstream patriarchal histories.
I finished reading Queen of Ice and sat quietly for a while marshalling my thoughts and marveling at the deftness with which Devika has interwoven history and fiction to write a book that should be on the must-read list for all young adults in India. Not just teenagers but all aficionados of historical fiction really do need to grab a copy of Queen of Ice.