Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Vanished - Sheela Chari

Vanished by Sheela Chari
Genre: Middle Grade, mystery
Published on July 26, 2011
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 336
Read From: 4.22.12 - 4.27.12

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother - intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon. 
When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar pointy-faced dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it turns out that Neela's instrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. Even if Neela does track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?


This was not quite as strange as I was expecting, though don't get me wrong - it was still strange. My expectations were just high in that area. But the lack of epic weirdness did not disappoint me at all, and I fully enjoyed this book. More than I was really expecting, actually. Neela is an agreeable young heroine; she's not at all bratty or unnecessarily belligerent, like most heroines her age. The Author also keeps her Readers guessing at every turn, and she deftly weaves Indian history and tradition into the narration, bringing life and flavor to it.

While the resolution to the mystery is rather unsinister and the people connections average and unthreatening, for a story like this it worked. While the Author leads her Readers on, the story really didn't beg for a sinister twist, like a lot of mysteries do, and the believable explanations kept the story from becoming just downright strange.

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