“If you go looking for adventure, you will find it.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

Ruskin Bond’s new Rusty adventure is slightly darker than the previous ones. It’s ten years down the road and   Rusty is older and his friends are busy with school ending exams. Rusty, however, is not ready to settle down to college – he wants to explore the mysterious Witch Mountain, though not on his own. He sets out with his friends Pitambar and Popatand runs into those old fashioned kind of adventures that most children aren’t fortunate enough to encounter in books these days – man eating tigers, a blood sucking cat and half way up a mountain a supposed rani who turns out to be a witch. There is also a beautiful princess.

All these light-hearted ingredients however combine to make a Grimm’s Fairy Tale type of story with dark undercurrents. The witch rani has a murder of crows at her beck and call and she condemns Rusty and his friends to a diet of endless bananas and refuses to release them unless they bring her a singing stone which can only be found near the top of the mountain in a region plagued by earthquakes.

The beautiful princess is there to help but she is not what she appears to be – though exactly what she is remains a riddle. Nothing is but what is not for the most part – the cat forms part of a nightmare where a demon face  peers through the window of Rusty’s room. There are snippets of Arthurian legends mixed in with Grimm and Ruskin Bond does a good job of making our flesh creep – creepier than usual actually possibly due to the complaints of a young reader who wanted more scary stories.

Surprisingly, this book for all its fascinating detail, has a problem with loose ends. Is the cat the witch, was the witch a princess or were they all catty after all in one way or another? What is the mystery of the mirror? Why does Rusty look into it later, long after he has kissed the princess, and see a leopard who never reappears?  Or perhaps all this is a way of setting the scene for a later Rusty story.

 

Reviewed by:

Anjana Basu

Added 27th January 2016

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Anjana Basu

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