The latest in the History Mystery series of Duckbill books written by Natasha Sharma is Razia and the Pesky Presents. After reviewing Raja Raja and the Swapped Sacks and Ashoka and the Muddled Messages by the same author, I was only too eager to read another in the series. (N.B. Natasha Sharma is the latest author added to my favourite authors list).
For some reason, either I did not focus during my history classes, or probably not much was included about Sultan Razia in the history texts of Tamil Nadu, I do not remember having studied about her in school.
So, it came as a surprise that there was a tomboyish ruler Sultan Razia, who did not like to be addressed as Sultana, as she thought that Sultanas are wives of Sultans. Razia was a ruler herself, hence a Sultan and hated to be called Sultana. A sample of feminism in history.
What could irk such a character more, than getting presents meant for a more feminine woman, like a palanquin or lehengas and dupattas (as against the pants that she wore)?
Sultan Razia sets her Fabulous Forty into action to find out the perpetrator of the crimes.
Who had the cheek to send these presents along with chauvinistic messages asking her to behave more like a member of the so-called fairer sex? Is it Wazir, the chief minister, or one of the Fabulous Forty themselves? Could it be the whining Bin Badal Khan? Everyone is on the lookout for the criminal and none is beyond suspicion. What unfolds is a comic mystery set in the background of history, splattered with humorous episodes.
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- Sultan Razia is a historic personality whom I seem to have missed, and I am happy to have discovered her thanks to this book. Being the first, and only woman to have ruled Delhi, she was as able as any other male ruler. I am reminded of Didda Rani of Queen of Ice.
- As is usual in Natasha’s books, the humour quotient is high and will have the young readers in splits.
- I fell in love with the cover design as soon as I laid my hands on the book. Priya Kuriyan’s irritated Razia, enraged Razia, the head-stuck-inside-palanquin Razia and scared-of-squirmy-slimy-slithery-fly-catcher-on-the-wall Razia support the story in a fantabulous manner. In addition, I like the dupatta flying as ghost picture and the one showing the suspects following each other surreptitiously.
- As in her earlier book on Ashoka, I admire the way the historical facts like the Fabulous Forty have been blended seamlessly and used to the story’s advantage.
Razia Sultan is not a Sultana!
A copy of this book was given me by the publishers, Duckbill in return for an honest review. Thanks Duckbill.