City of the Plague God

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
City of the Plague God Book Poster Image
Action-packed tale of Middle East myths, magic, monsters.

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Features characters from Mesopotamian mythology, including Ishtar and Gilgamesh. Provides a glossary of Arabic words and Muslim phrases.

Positive Messages

Never give up hope, even in the face of great adversity. Family members need to stick together and protect each other. Immigrants contribute valuable benefits to society.

Positive Role Models

Sik is devoted to his family and grieves the loss of his older brother, missing in Iraq. A loyal friend, he puts up with the vain and overly ambitious Daoud, tries to protect Belet, the sometimes foolhardy adopted daughter of Ishtar. Muslim characters are treated with respect by nearly everyone.


Plenty of fights with demons and monsters, more physically disgusting than scary. Betel and Sik use a magic sword to chop off limbs and heads. A main character dies but comes back to life.


 "Badass" is as bad as it gets.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sarwat Chadda's City of the Plague God is a contemporary fantasy novel based on Mesopotamian mythology and set in New York City. After his parents' deli is destroyed by demons, 13-year-old Sik Aziz is caught in a battle between gods and monsters. There's a lot of swordplay and magical fights that are more disgusting than scary. Betel and Sik use a magic sword to chop off limbs and heads. A main character dies but comes back to life. "Badass" is as bad as the language gets,

User Reviews

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Kid, 12 years old April 20, 2021

Awesome Book!

This is really great! I love how action-packed and adventurous this book is. I also love the mythology in this book. The reason for 4 stars is that it can be a... Continue reading

What's the story?

As CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD begins, Sik Aziz discovers that his parents' deli has been destroyed in a fire and that a plague has been unleashed in New York City. The demon Nergal takes credit for the disaster and demands that Sik turn over a treasure taken from Iraq and hidden by Sik's missing older brother, Mo. Sik is initially protected by the goddess Ishtar and her adopted daughter Belet. But what are Sik and Belet to do when Ishtar is killed, something they never planned on? Sik must make his own journey into the land of the dead and face the most dangerous demons in existence.

Is it any good?

The mythology of the Middle East rarely inspires fiction for teens, but this action-packed tale based on Mesopotamian folklore will likely please a wide range of young adult readers. In City of the Plague God, author Sarwat Chadda puts an original spin on Middle Eastern monsters, gods, and demons, finding both intense suspense and dark humor in nearly every scene. Sik is an appealing protagonist: realistically cautious when dealing with supernatural menaces, but determined to rescue his family. The novel seems timely and self-contained, focused on telling a compelling story rather than on setting the stage for a too-long fantasy saga. Readers who want something different from the usual zombies, vampires, and shape-shifters will relish City of the Plague God.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how City of the Plague God uses Mesopotamian mythology as a springboard for a contemporary fantasy novel. Why are readers still interested in ancient folklore?

  • How has our own society adapted to a pandemic? Is a pandemic a topic that should be mentioned in all post-2020 fiction?

  • How does diversity help people understand one another? What can be done to foster better communication between ethnic and religious groups?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and mythology

Themes & Topics

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