It just occurred to me that the title is a bit of a spoiler…
I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse by Sangu Mandanna. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse, the sequel to Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom, Kiki has saved the magical land of Mysore, and all is well. Or so she thinks. When her friend Lej finds his way to London with news of a terrible curse, she realizes she has to save the world—again. This time, the river that supplies Mysore with water has vanished. Kiki isn’t sure she can do anything, though, as her influence over her magical land seems to be lessening. But someone has to try, don’t they?
This continues to be such a fun series! Kiki is a sweet kid, and you really feel for her through her struggles. Sure, some are not that relatable, such as having to face curses and beings made of water. Others, though, such as the anxiety she grapples with, are very grounded in reality. Kiki’s development has continued since the first book, and it’s great to see how she has learned some coping mechanisms and ways to help herself. It’s excellent representation, especially for kids who deal with similar things.
The other characters are pretty fun, too. I especially like Pip and Jojo, though the others are sweet. I also enjoyed getting to see more development of Kiki’s mom, as well as the Good Witch. However, I wish we could have gotten more time with the new characters, as it didn’t seem we got to know them very well. And as for Ashwini, I would have loved to see more of her in this one, but I suppose it leaves an opening for a third book.
On another note, while it was interesting to see how Kiki dealt with the curse, this plot somehow felt like it had lower stakes than in the first book. I mean, Mysore was in danger again, but the urgency wasn’t really there for me. Still an engaging adventure, but not quite as compelling as before.
In the end, Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse is an enjoyable adventure through a folklore-inspired realm with an assortment of quirky characters. The magic is cool, the pacing great, and the setting fantastic. I hope there will be a third book someday!
Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse will be published on May 17th, 2022!