- Sandhya Menon
- 4th published book; Book 1 of a Series-St. Rosetta’s
- Genre: YA Contemporary Fairy tale Retelling
- Heritage/Background: Indian-American
- IG: @sandhyamenonbooks; Twitter: @smenonbooks
- Website: http://www.sandhyamenon.com/
- Release: 2/18/2020 (You don’t have to wait! YAY!)
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Favorite Character: Isha! She is a real ass, down to Earth girl with a big heart who happens to be royalty! Isha lives her best life and tells it like it is…I’m just drawn to characters like her! Daphne Elizabeth came in a close second and Rahul (he’s hella funny, don’t sleep on him, y’all)!
- Favorite Quote(s): “Mmm, no I’m totally listening. It’s just that I’m also having a foodgasm.”-Daphne Elizabeth (DE)… As a foodie, I felt this deep down in my Spirit…I will never forget the way my knees buckled when I took my first bite into a brownie bite from babycakes (I believe their name has changed doe)… NEVER! When you experience it, Savor that moment, my friends… saaaaaaaaavor it!
I’m going to preface this by saying that I am a HUGE Sandhya Menon fan. She had me wrapped around her literary finger from When Dimple Met Rishi and she has not disappointed me with her subsequent 2 books (From Twinkle, With Love and There’s Something About Sweetie) and her fourth, Of Curses And Kisses, which is pretty different from the others but enhances my love for her work! Sandhya is also a Hufflepuff, so that means that we totally get each other and she has my loyalty (#HufflesFoLyfe)! When I met her at Bookcon, I was doing flips internally because I love her work THAT much! She’s also a sweetheart & if you’ve met her, you would agree!
When Sandhya announced this project, I was 100% here for it. A fairy tale retelling with the main character being a POC, more specifically an Indian Princess…AB-SO-FUCKING-LUTELY (I’m lightweight obsessed with the Indian culture; you can thank my best friend of 20+ years Khaivchandra & a study abroad trip to India for that)! The works of L.L. McKinney’s A Blade So Black & A Dream So Dark (Alice And Wonderland Retelling with a Badass Black Girl as the main character) and Anna-Marie McLemore’s Dark And Deepest Red (Red Shoes retelling with brown girls at the center) really made me excited about retellings that I could see myself in. Sandhya adding to that list with Of Curses And Kisses really makes my heart swell with gladness (is that corny? It’s totally okay if it is).
OCAK is a Beauty And The Beast retelling that takes place at a boarding school in Aspen, Colorado. I’m not one for writing synopsis but for the sake of context (and blog tour purposes) here is a brief one: Sisters & Princesses Jaya and Isha Rao are sent to St. Rosetta’s Boarding school after a scandal *shocked face* hits their family. The intent of their time there is to dip out of the spotlight back home but that intent changed for Jaya when she discovers that her family’s centuries long rival (because Colonialism was a thing) youngest heir, Grey Emerson (Lord Northcliff if you’re nasty, lol) is there. Now Jaya plots out (to no one else’s knowledge) a way to bring the Emerson Name & Grey down in the most unconventional of ways…through his heart! Hopefully that synopsis has done the story justice, gave no spoilers and sold it for you *insert Angel face emoji here*!
Part of what I love about Sandhya’s work is how poetic she is in the building of her story, the characters and the scenery. I really saw the world of St. Rosetta’s (or St. R’s as Grey calls it) as I read the book, which says a lot because I’ve never been to Colorado or any sort of mountains (thissssss *points to herself* Black woman does not hike or ski and it’s really not a shocker if you’ve met me, lol). I also loved how she introduced each character and the timing behind each one coming into the story, it felt deliberate yet seamless. I’m a fan of DE and the crew (Leo and Rahul), how they ride for Grey despite his off-putting disposition (read: Grumpy cat in human form and really tall)…friends who are willing to see the Beauty in you (pun intended *drum beat*) and always show up for you when you aren’t even showing up for yourself are pretty rare. One time for the Real Ones of the world, outchea being true riders for their friends, EYE appreciate you! The build up between Jaya and Grey is also so good. I’m hella into rom-coms and it has some of that feel to it but doesn’t drop the ball when it comes to bringing aspects of Beauty And the Beast into it. It had its innocent moments along with some steamy mixed in there. I felt it was a great balance throughout! Sandhya did an amazing job with making this retelling her own.
Because I’m me and am a nerd of sorts, I have to take a moment to appreciate the fact that Sandhya brings in some history in the mentions of colonialism and how the British pillaged India (and really all of the countries it colonized). I feel like colonization gets glazed over, if it is brought up, but Jaya doesn’t ever forget what it/the British did to her country and her people. No, she doesn’t go into long winded rants about the wrongs of the Emersons and the British (though they would be valid) but she says enough that you get the point of the problems that this practice caused and really still hasn’t been fully atoned for (this is not even talking about in real life)…but I digress!
Seriously y’all, it is so easy to fall in love with this story and the characters. I finished this book in two days because I was so enamored with the world that Sandhya created. This book is the first of a series and I can’t wait to see where the other books go! The next book’s retelling and title hasn’t been announced yet buuuuuut good things come to those who wait, so keep watch of Sandhya’s pages (links are at the top of the page for your convenience) for those updates *wink* *wink*! Go pick up this book and get lost in the world of Jaya, Grey and St. Rosetta’s; you won’t regret it! Happy Reading y’all *waves as the screen fades out*!