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The Serpent's Secret

Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond, Book 1
Narrated by: Sayantani DasGupta
Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (33 ratings)
Regular price: $17.49
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Publisher's Summary

A new middle-grade fantasy series packed with action and adventure, perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Soman Chainani. 

Meet Kiranmala: interdimensional demon slayer (only she doesn't know it yet). 

On the morning of her 12th birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey . . . until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents' fantastical stories - like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess and how she comes from a secret place not of this world. 

To complicate matters, two crush-worthy princes ring her doorbell, insisting they've come to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying talking birds. There she must solve riddles and battle demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld and the Rakkhoshi Queen in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it.... 

©2018 Sayantani DasGupta (P)2018 Scholastic Inc.

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    2 out of 5 stars

a bit overwritten, but it could just be the reader

Could not stand the reader. Was bad enough I could barely listen to the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Terrible

Felt like I was in kindergarten being read too, both story and narration very child like and slow.
Don’t know why audible would have put in my recommendation list.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome

This is the best tricking book I've ever read and I am dieing for the new one to come out

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Animefan
  • 02-05-19

Good for children, but not the next Harry Potter

If I come off as too harsh in the below it's because I had high expectations for this book that weren't met. Too high. I read some reviews on book review sites calling it "Indian Harry Potter". And loving Harry Potter I rushed to buy it hoping for a decade worth of new books to enjoy. Sadly that exaggerated claim was one it could not live up too.

To summarise, overall it's a decent read for children. May even be a excellent read for children - if I was a parent reading this to my child I may have given it a 4 stars. But if you are an adult like me, and someone has told you its basically Harry Potter but with Indian Mythology, then they have missed that the tone isn't as wide ranging as Harry Potter. This is a young children's book, and adults looking for next HP should keep looking.

The Good:
The audio book is very well narrated. I was concerned to see it was the author narrating, but fears were unjustified as her delivery fantastic. I don't know if she has experience in voice work or not, but she's solid.
Grammar and story structure is fine.
There's a lot creative ideas here and children should enjoy it.

The things I didn't like:
Not 30 pages in we are introduced to the 2 love interests. Both are 12 year old supernatural super-model attractive Princes. But they are not perfect, oh no, for the most "dreamy" one has a bent eyelash, and the other is brooding with a tragic story for the lead to uncover and emotionally heal.

I honestly got vibes of Twilight's Bella, Edward and Jacob love triangle here, and wondered if this book started off as Twilight fanfiction, or at least was influenced by it. I put it out of my mind until page 100 odd, when the author gives a wink-wink that this probably was the case. One of the Prince's (who isn't from Earth and I wouldn't think should know about American pop culture) starts making jokes about sparkly vampires, to which the lead says that Twilight is her favourite book series. So yeah, the Twilight overtones are acknowledged.

Again with the Harry Potter comparison, at age 12 the HP trio weren't thinking of romance, they were fighting a Basalisk. HP waited for the characters to age before bringing in romance. Certainty HP didn't spend time emphasising how attractive its 12 year old characters were. I just felt a little uncomfortable reading it here. But I suppose this is part of me bring the wrong audience. Little girls will probably lap up the "dreamy" Pre-teen Princes.

As well as Twilighy jokes, the book does have a number of modern cultural nods that date the story. Harry Potter is set in the 90s but does its best not to discuss 90s culture so future audiences aren't left out of the references and could imagine it set in the 2010s, 2020s etc when they come to read it. It's timeless. This book's jokes about Twilight, selfie-taking demons etc place it firmly in the 00s. It just feels cheesy, and detracts from that timeless quality. The last Twilight book was published in 2008, and movie released in 2012. It was a fad that pre-dates the birth of this book's key audience. Audiences now may get it, but those reading it 10 or 20 years from now likely wont.

The humour was also aimed very young. There's a recurring joke about the lead being Princess "Just" Kiran that goes on too long. And a lot of the other worldly creatures go overboard with silly rhymes that take the tension out of the scenes. Plus there's jokes about Mustouche theft and other weirdness, and characters calling each other childish insults like "fart-faces" etc. It's key audience is probably children around the age of the protagonists (12) or younger.

In the end I really struggled to finish this. The problem, as I said the opening, that this book is aimed a pre-teens, and isn't really catering to a wider audience. The reviews that directed me to it did this story a disservice by comparing it so heavily with Harry Potter, something it cannot live up to.

I saw some reviews also compare it favourably to Percy Jackson. I never read those books, but saw 2 bad movies. And yes, on that issue, I enjoyed this audio book more than the Percy Jackson movies.