Aru Shah and the End of Time Page 1

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Series: Pandava #1

Genres: Fantasy

To my sisters:

Niv, Victoria, Bismah, Monica, and Shraya

We really need a theme song.


Aru Shah Is About to Explode Your Head

Have you ever read a book and thought, Wow, I wish I’d written that!?

For me, Aru Shah and the End of Time is one of those books. It has everything I like: humor, action, great characters, and, of course, awesome mythology! But this is not a book I could have written. I just don’t have the expertise or the insider’s knowledge to tackle the huge, incredible world of Hindu mythology, much less make it so fun and reader-friendly.

Fortunately for all of us, Roshani Chokshi does.

If you are not familiar with Hindu mythology—wow, are you in for a treat! You thought Zeus, Ares, and Apollo were wild? Wait until you meet Hanuman and Urvashi. You thought Riptide was a cool weapon? Check out this fine assortment of divine astras—maces, swords, bows, and nets woven from lightning. Take your pick. You’re going to need them. You thought Medusa was scary? She’s got nothing on the nagini and rakshas. Aru Shah, a salty and smart seventh-grade girl from Atlanta, is about to plunge into the midst of all this craziness, and her adventure will make your head explode in the best possible way.

If you already know Hindu mythology, you’re about to have the most entertaining family reunion ever. You’re going to see lots of your favorites—gods, demons, monsters, villains, and heroes. You’re going to soar up to the heavens and down into the Underworld. And no matter how many of these myths you already know, I’ll bet you a pack of Twizzlers you’re going to learn something new.

Can you tell I’m excited to share this book with you? Yeah, I’m pretty excited.

So what are we waiting for? Aru Shah is hanging out in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, where her mom works. Autumn break has started, and Aru is pretty sure it’s going to be a boring day.

Yikes. She is SO wrong.


In Which Aru Regrets Opening the Door

The problem with growing up around highly dangerous things is that after a while you just get used to them.

For as long as she could remember, Aru had lived in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. And she knew full well that the lamp at the end of the Hall of the Gods was not to be touched.

She could mention “the lamp of destruction” the way a pirate who had tamed a sea monster could casually say, Oh, you mean ole Ralph here? But even though she was used to the lamp, she had never once lit it. That would be against the rules. The rules she went over every Saturday, when she led the afternoon visitors’ tour.

Some folks may not like the idea of working on a weekend, but it never felt like work to Aru.

It felt like a ceremony.

Like a secret.

She would don her crisp scarlet vest with its three honeybee buttons. She would imitate her mother’s museum-curator voice, and people—this was the best part of all—would listen. Their eyes never left her face. Especially when she talked about the cursed lamp.

Sometimes she thought it was the most fascinating thing she ever discussed. A cursed lamp is a much more interesting topic than, say, a visit to the dentist. Although one could argue that both are cursed.

Aru had lived at the museum for so long, it kept no secrets from her. She had grown up reading and doing her homework beneath the giant stone elephant at the entrance. Often she’d fall asleep in the theater and wake up just before the crackling self-guided tour recording announced that India became independent from the British in 1947. She even regularly hid a stash of candy in the mouth of a four-hundred-year-old sea dragon statue (she’d named it Steve) in the west wing. Aru knew everything about everything in the museum. Except one thing…

The lamp. For the most part, it remained a mystery.

“It’s not quite a lamp,” her mother, renowned curator and archaeologist Dr. K. P. Shah, had told her the first time she showed it to Aru. “We call it a diya.”

Aru remembered pressing her nose against the glass case, staring at the lump of clay. As far as cursed objects went, this was by far the most boring. It was shaped like a pinched hockey puck. Small markings, like bite marks, crimped the edges. And yet, for all its normal-ness, even the statues filling the Hall of the Gods seemed to lean away from the lamp, giving it a wide berth.

“Why can’t we light it?” she had asked her mother.

Her mother hadn’t met her gaze. “Sometimes light illuminates things that are better left in the dark. Besides, you never know who is watching.”

Well, Aru had watched. She’d been watching her entire life.

Every day after school she would come home, hang her backpack from the stone elephant’s trunk, and creep toward the Hall of the Gods.

It was the museum’s most popular exhibit, filled with a hundred statues of various Hindu gods. Her mother had lined the walls with tall mirrors so visitors could see the artifacts from all angles. The mirrors were “vintage” (a word Aru had used when she traded Burton Prater a greenish penny for a whopping two dollars and half a Twix bar). Because of the tall crape myrtles and elms standing outside the windows, the light that filtered into the Hall of the Gods always looked a little muted. Feathered, almost. As if the statues were wearing crowns of light.