Sarwat Chadda is an exciting new author to the Puffin list. He was the winner of the SCWBI 'Undiscovered Voices' new writers' competition in 2008 with an early draft of Devil's Kiss. He was brought up a Muslim and is married to a vicar's daughter - his writing reflects both these elements. Sarwat lives in London.
Chadda's fast-paced debut introduces 15-year-old Billi SanGreal, who is drafted into the modern remnants of the once-great Knights Templar by her fanatical, emotionally distant father, leader of the order ("How was school?" he asks while she's still "covered in slimy gore" after an exorcism). Though skilled in weaponry and educated in obscure religious history, Billi is a poor fit for the Templars: the lone girl in an otherwise all-male organization, of Muslim extraction but surrounded by Christians and lacking the unblinking ruthlessness required by the eternal war between the Knights and the forces of darkness. Nonetheless, she finds herself standing between the Angel of Death, Michael, who has become blinded by imagined glories of enforced salvation, and the multitude of innocents Michael would happily slaughter in the name of God. Scenes of spiritual warfare are gripping (and often gruesome), as is the undercurrent of supernatural romance. Chadda offers an original take on familiar creatures like vampires, the undead and fallen angels, but it's Billi's personality and tumult of emotions that will keep readers hooked. A promising beginning to both this series and Chadda's career. Ages 13-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Gr 8 Up-This fast-paced debut novel introduces readers to a modern London in which humanity is threatened by the hungry dead. The Knights Templar, an ancient order now operating in secret, is all that stands between the regular world and supernatural threats-and loner Billi is the only girl ever to become a member of that order. It is not a position of honor, however: her father, leader of the Order, demands ridiculously high standards without ever giving her a word of support, comfort, or love. Instead, he praises Kay, once Billi's best friend and possible love interest. She longs for a normal, simple life, which will have some readers sympathizing with her, while others more familiar with the genre will realize long before Billi does that normal is well outside her reach. Urban fantasy readers will also see plot twists before they are resolved. Chadda does an excellent job of drawing on Christian, Jewish, and Muslim folk stories to create the mythology for this world. Billi's mother's Muslim background and her father's oddly secular Christian devotion provide the book with a feeling of authenticity, as those traditions are meshed over the course of the book. The open ending leaves room for sequels, and Billi's growth makes her a more appealing narrator for future installments. Devil's Kiss will certainly find an audience, despite its prickly narrator.-Alana Joli Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.