book review, children’s fiction, childrens, fantasy, Middle Grade

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna

Twelve year old Kiki Kallira has anxiety, and the only things that helps silence the voice of doom inside her is to draw.

Kiki’s drawings are extensive and delightful, inspired by the stories from her family’s Indian heritage. There’s a group of orphans called The Crows, one of her ancestors that broke the mold, and a tea drinking lion.

There is darkness in the picture world too, because that’s where the demon lives.

When Kiki’s story comes to life, and the people she has drawn ask for her help, she realizes that the world she’s made might be nice to look at but it’s very dangerous to live in it.

I want to congratulate Sangu Mandanna for writing such a realistic depiction of an anxiety disorder. I don’t think I’ve come across it handled better, and I’ve certainly never seen it done so well in a middle grade book.

I loved how accepting and understanding Kiki’s friends and mother were of her worries. Anxiety is hard to experience, but it can also be hard for others to understand, so kudos to the author for creating such a supportive environment.

I didn’t know much about this book when I started reading it, and I incorrectly assumed that it would be a light story about a girl adventuring into the world of her drawings. Well, you know what they say about assumptions! This is a surprisingly deep book, with many layers, and lots of developments that I did not see coming, and which I absolutely loved.

The fact that Kiki drew her own version of Mysore and filled it with characters from Indian myth added another layer of enjoyment.

There are lots of big themes in this book about taking responsibility and the consequences of your actions, which I absolutely loved. Mandanna is clever how she plays with expectations, and her characters are more complex than you find in the usual middle grade book.

However, the more serious subjects are nicely countered by some much needed humor (mostly in the form of a lion who is put in charge of The Crows) and the beautiful descriptions of the intricate, imaginative world.

I award Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom

11 thoughts on “Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna”

    1. She did a great job. I love how she incorporated Indian myths into her story (I’m found of writing about Irish myths myself, as you know). Kiki Killira is a great name to say, it’s very musical. 😊

      Liked by 2 people

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