Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shiva's Fire by Suzanne Staples

Cover image for Shiva's fireThe day Parvati is born, her father is killed in a cyclone.  The only thing Parvati has of his is statue of a dancing Shiva.  Parvati is drawn to the statue, and as Parvati grows up, she wants to become a dancer. She soon discovers that when she dances miraculous things happen.  She he tries to hide her powers until one day she is invited by a guru to become a religious devotee of the Shiva and learn the traditional forms of dance. Her amazing skill at the dance, and the supernatural things that occur while she dances gains her the mistrust of her peers, but the admiration of the guru.  In the end her dancing skill takes her to the palace to dance for the raja and experience the greatest challenge of her life.

I enjoy books that invite me to experience another culture from the point of view of a native.  That is what this book did.  Even with the supernatural elements, it felt authentic and after I was done reading it I felt like I understood more about India and the worship of Shiva.  Parvati is a likeable character, and the short mini-romance at the end was fun.  It wasn't as good of writing as Gloria Whelan's Homeless Bird but it reminded me a little of it.  They would be a good pair for a book group or school reading circle to read together and then discuss similarities and differences. 

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