The Chaos Curse: Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Chaos Curse: Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Chaotic tale with solid message that diverse stories matter.

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

Educational Value

Author's note explains how the book draws from many West Bengal, India, folktales and children's stories. It also lists references to books, movies, folktales, and myths that come from other cultures and get mixed up with the Bengali stories in this sequel. Readers will also learn about various Indian wedding traditions and astronomy theories, including string theory and the Big Bang. Much about the Butterfly Effect. Plus a note on how nonbinary gender identity is understood in South Asia.

Positive Messages

Our diverse stories matter. While those in power often determine whose stories are told and remembered, love can keep stories alive. Heroes and villains are not always so easy to label.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kiranmala, a 12-year-old Bengali princess growing up in New Jersey, likes to wear combat boots. She embraces the fighting demons part of being royalty more than the pretty part. She has more confidence now in her abilities, but makes a few rash decisions that she regrets later, especially after her actions endanger the life of her friend. Then she does everything to make things right.  She's appalled when she sees a version of her adoptive parents that have given up their Indian identities, supposedly to be more American. She likes them the way they are. Characters are diverse: Kiran's best friend is Greek, the principal at her middle school is Chinese (in her universe anyway), and she befriends a nonbinary talking tiger and a number of rakkhosh demons on her Kingdom Beyond adventures.

Violence

Fighting against supernatural creatures that use fire, teeth, arrows, and tentacles against Kiran and friends. A poisoned arrow tears a wing and nearly kills. Talk about ways to end the world or squish the multiverse into one world, erasing many people and worlds from existence. Talk about the death of a beloved character from Book 2.

Sex

Some attempts at flirting.

Language
Consumerism

Many mentions of familiar books and movies, especially The Princess Bride and Alice in Wonderland.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Chaos Curse: Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond is the third book in a fantasy series featuring a melding of folk tales and folklore from West Bengal, India. This series will remind you a lot of Rick Riordan's work (Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles). It thrusts modern kids into the world of mythology and infuses the story with humor. Here, the modern kid is 12-year-old Kiranmala, an Indian girl from another dimension growing up in New Jersey. In this installment she must save a prince trapped in a tree and save the world from her god/villain father who wants to combine all the world's stories into one and destroy the multiverse. Expect more fantasy fighting with some demon creatures, but only a few injuries including a wing torn with a poisoned arrow. The Chaos Curse explores why diverse stories matter and references many books and movies kids growing up in the United States will know well, like The Princess Bride and Alice in Wonderland.

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What's the story?

In THE CHAOS CURSE: KIRANMALA AND THE KINGDOM BEYOND, BOOK 3, Kiran is tasked with returning home to New Jersey to rescue Prince Lal, who's trapped in her neighbor's tree. She travels through the wormhole and lands in the right tree, but begins to suspect she's landed in the wrong version of her universe. Her Earth parents have given up their convenience store to become tax accountants and insist on calling her "Karen" because they think it's easier to say. And when she gets to school her frenemy acts like her best friend, her BFF is a jerk, and her principal turns out to be Medusa's sister. And wait -- what's a Greek Gorgon doing in Kiran's world? When Kiran rescues Lal from what turns out to be Yggdrasil, the world tree from Norse mythology, and heads home to the Kingdom Beyond, many more myth mixups are to come and Kiran figures out her villain dad may be behind it all.

Is it any good?

Myths and more get all mixed up in this overly chaotic story with a great message about the importance of preserving diverse tales. Kiran's task may seem simple at the beginning of The Chaos Curse -- rescue Prince Lal. But this simple trajectory gets wrapped up in so much complexity that it's overwhelming. There's a talking bird who loves dumb jokes, a nonbinary intellectual tiger, a gecko communication device, a flighty moon mother, the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Einstein in a wormhole explaining about string theory (wait, no, that's on the way back), these blue butterflies everywhere, and a scene straight out of Alice in Wonderland with keys and doors and a riddle. There's a certain delight in all this chaos on top of more chaos that gets in the way of telling a clear quest tale. The great message about preserving these unique stories almost gets lost.

When Kiran, Lal, and her strange animal sidekicks get back to the Kingdom Beyond, there's another story structure challenge: For pages, Kiran and Prince Neel have lost their heroic roles. They're in the way of other characters and causing trouble. This doesn't get resolved until near the end in a time travel adventure that will remind readers of Back to the Future -- oddly the parallel is never mentioned, when there are so many references rolling about. This jaunt to the past and its consequences in the present help The Chaos Curse end on a clever high note.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the stories squished into The Chaos Curse. Did you notice them all? What was being lost as all the stories started to meld together?

  • By this installment, Kiran realizes even more that the line between villain and hero can be a hard one to draw, especially when it comes to Neel's mother. What other stories have you read that show villains with heroic tendencies or people that look heroic not acting heroic at all by story's end?

  • Will you read more in this series? What do you think is next for Kiran, Neel, and friends?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and myth

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