Murder in Melucha (Meandering Magicians #2) by Aditi Krishnakumar
Review,  Fantasy,  Middle Grade

Murder in Melucha by Aditi Krishnakumar – middle-grade magical mystery

Murder in Melucha is entertaining, delightful and well-written middle-grade magical mystery with theme of human nature.

middle-grade magical mystery

Murder in Melucha (Meandering Magicians #2) by Aditi Krishnakumar

Publication Date : August 1, 2021

Publisher : Duckbill

Read Date : April 7, 2023

Genre : Middle Grade / Fantasy / Mystery

Pages : 240

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous book in series I read –

The Magicians of Madh (Meandering Magicians #1)

Disclaimer – Many thanks to Penguinsters for sending review copy  as part of Blogchatter Book Review Program.
This post contains affiliate links.

Synopsis

Something strange is afoot at the Lotus Palace.

A guest is murdered after a boring state banquet …
A secret room full of scorpions is found …
A cloaked stranger passes on information …
Every marble statue seems to hold a secret …

In Melucha, children’s alphabet books teach that H is for hemlock, so it is no particular surprise when someone is found murdered. But in a city where everyone has devious and twisted motives, and dire plans, it is not easy for Meenakshi and Kalban to find the murderer.

In this sequel to the acclaimed The Magicians of Madh , Aditi Krishnakumar pulls off another delightful romp, full of mystery, humour and hilarious predicaments.

Review

delightful and well-written middle-grade magical mystery

Murder in Melucha is entertaining and imaginative middle-grade fantasy mystery that takes Kalban and Meenakshi to Kalban’s home, Melucha.

Kalban was called back to Melucha after he passed his magician’s license test in Madh (in first book). Kalban is firstborn and heir to throne. But Melucha doesn’t like the ruler with magic. People, court, and even Kalban’s own family think his younger brother Abhinav can be a better ruler than Kalban who is more like their father, without magic. Meenakshi is sent to Melucha to study political science for two months. But just few days before her arrival, a guest is murdered in the palace who was also Kalban’s old tutor whom he asked to teach Meenakshi along with the present tutor.

Now Murder or plotting of murder is common in Melucha but when Chitralekha, the celestial dancer gets involved in the investigation of mortal murder (that never usually happens) it makes Meenakshi and Kalban look into murder more seriously and so the adventure of lies, deceptions, scheming and plotting starts.

I think this can be read as a standalone as readers who haven’t read the first book still enjoyed this. But I would recommend reading this in order as first book introduces the world and characters well. Moreover, there is mention of events happened in first book.

Writing is as fun and witty as first book but this is less rambling with fewer long sentences and has a little serious and sinister tone but not in a scary way. The pace is fast to steady.

The best thing about the book is Melucha, its description, court and its rules, mystery, and the theme of human nature and many meaningful lines.

Just as Madh is known for Strange things, Melucha is known for dark things- murder, politics, breeding poisonous animals, and trades for poisons… it’s where every kid is taught the ABC of surviving court in which M is Murder and H is Hemlock, read books about poisons and how to detect them, how to listen for cobras in dark ally or how to carefully shake slippers before you put down your leg and do a thorough sweep of the room to avoid the sting of venomous spider or scorpion… It’s city where no one trust anyone and every person in court is suspicious. That sure made the mystery of the murder hard to solve for Kalban and Meenakshi.

I loved seeing Kalban and Meenakshi again. Kalban, as usual, is cautious and worrier but being in Melucha makes him more jumpy and anxious and I get his reasons. It’s not easy to be among people who see you as a failure and not worthy of the throne and then worry about being caught doing magic that gives the court even more reason to exile him and make Abhinav the next ruler. For most of the book I sided with his reactions but as the story progressed I also could see his worry is based on assumptions and he was wrong to think worst all the time. It was great to see how conversation with his family in the end changed his perspective.

Meenakshi is amazing. I agree with her, people are not easy and they are hard to deal with so when she arrives in Melucha and solving mystery and learning political science included observing and understanding and interacting with people. She was out of depth and way out her comfort zone. She is more direct and the word discretion does not appear in her dictionary but still she did pretty well. I wouldn’t say she will pass the political science course ever but I can say she wouldn’t get a negative mark like her father (which made me laugh). It was fun to see her solve the mystery and I love how she came to conclusion.

There are many other characters and they all were given enough backstory to make them suspect which made them even more interesting. I have to say I couldn’t guess the villain until it was revealed near the end which is another plus point to the book. I also couldn’t guess the person who helped the villain in his/her plot.

Climax is interesting. While I liked Meenakshi’s long explanation of deducing the mystery and eliminating the suspects I still felt it was little too long. It’s the reason I’m not giving this full star. End is satisfying. I can’t wait to see what new adventure Kalban and Meenakshi are about to undertake.

Overall, Murder in Melucha is entertaining, delightful and well-written middle-grade fantasy mystery with theme of human nature.

I recommend this if you like,
magical world
inspired by Indian mythology
court politics
middle-grade mystery
witty but slightly serious and sinister tone
fast pace
quirky characters

Book Links

Goodreads | Amazon.in | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

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