Masterchef meets Inkheart meets The Famous Five meets Bollywood. That is Ranjit Lal's latest book by Duckbill publishers, The Deadly Royal Recipe for you.
|pic courtesy flipkart|
Written by Ranjit Lal
Published by Duckbill publishers
Zafira is a lonely, homeschooled-till-now princess, who comes from an extraordinary royal family. The family has an ancient tradition of excellent cooks among its scions, and consequently, the House of Kamargarh is legendary, almost revered among culinary circles.
The principality, placed around the north-west of Delhi, has a sinister neighbouring Rajah who has evil designs on its most protected treasure - a Masterbook of royal recipes handed down through the ages. These are written in a code that only members of the royal family can understand. So he does the obvious. He kidnaps Princess Zafira and her new-found school friends and holds them for a royal ransom - you guessed it - the Masterbook.
What follows is a nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat narrative that had us wanting to know what happened next; and what the recipe is that is royal as well as deadly.
There are some spine-chilling and seriously yuck moments that one needs to be a preteen/adolescent to be able to stomach, and a lot of suspension of disbelief is required. That, however, is part of this thriller's charm, and Ranjit Lal seems to have his finger firmly on his readers' pulse. The naturalist in him peeks out in parts like the description of the 'dappled forest', the statement that wild elephants are more dangerous than the big cat, and that a peacock's mewling is the often the first intimation of the presence of a stealthy tiger.
I would be less than honest if I don't say this: the book does not aspire to any literary greatness. It does, however, entertain, keep the reader engrossed (grown-up readers too); a well-crafted story with a strong female protagonist. A story that children of both genders will thoroughly enjoy. My daughter A finished it in one sitting, reading late into the night, loath to put it down for the next day.
The cover page is interesting. I kept thinking it was a graphic novel. After reading the book, I feel it would make a great graphic novel- it has that potential.
The one grouse we both had with the book is: the delicious, mouthwatering food that is described, and the recipes discussed and savoured (yummy) are supposed to be found at a website that is given at the end of the book. Sadly, this site is a fictitious one, (we both checked, separately, unbeknownst to each other, and found out only while comparing notes) part of the narrative. A request to the author, and the publishers, if they read this - please do create such a site. That would be the tadka on this recipe.