Book Reviews

Review: Rea and the Blood of the Nectar by Payal Doshi

I will always read more middle grade. It’s one of my favorite comfort read genres. And since 2020/2021 has been the years that feel like A MILLION, I’m in desperate need for comfort. Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is a middle grade fantasy about secrets. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


It all begins on the night Rea turns twelve. After a big fight with her twin brother Rohan on their birthday, Rea’s life in the small village of Darjeeling, India, gets turned on its head. It’s four in the morning and Rohan is nowhere to be found.

It hasn’t even been a day and Amma acts like Rohan’s gone forever. Her grandmother, too, is behaving strangely. Unwilling to give up on her brother, Rea and her friend Leela meet Mishti Daadi, a wrinkly old fortune-teller whose powers of divination set them off on a thrilling and secret quest. In the shade of night, they portal into an otherworldly realm and travel to Astranthia, a land full of magic and whimsy. There with the help of Xeranther, an Astranthian barrow boy, and Flula, a pari, Rea battles serpent-lilies and blood-sucking banshees, encounters a butterfly-faced woman and blue lizard-men, and learns that Rohan has been captured. Rea also discovers that she is a princess with magic. Only she has no idea how to use it.

Struggling with the truth her Amma has kept hidden from her, Rea must solve clues that lead to Rohan, find a way to rescue him and save Astranthia from a potentially deadly fate. But the clock is ticking. Can she rescue Rohan, save Astranthia, and live to see it all?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is Doshi’s middle grade debut. This fantasy middle grade of riddles, quests, and adventure was definitely charming. I enjoyed reading Rea and the Blood of the Nectar as soon as the pace took off. For the beginning third, the pacing is a bit slow as Doshi introduces the world to us. Some sections felt a little info-dumpy, but it’s because Doshi sets the framework for this series and the magical events of the story. Once it starts going, I found myself gravitating towards Rea.

The ways she feels so overlooked, so un-seen, un-heard, really struck a chord within me. I felt like this one aspect alone touches on something universal within us. The journey her brother’s disappearance sets off, forces Rea to come into her own as a character. She is determined and can be a bit stubborn, but that is why I enjoyed her character. I want to read about more middle grade heroines like her!


While there was a lot to bite off, in terms of world building, I enjoyed this magical world of fairies, plants, and more. There were a few elements I would have liked a bit more detail, but I think that’s where Rea and the Blood of the Nectar being the first of the series comes into that. It’s a story about the bonds of siblings, finding our, magical, power, and family. Even if the beginning was a bit rocky, towards the end I found myself sinking into the story and action, so I’m intrigued in the sequels!

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Find Rea and the Blood of the Nectar on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Do you have a favorite South Asian Middle Grade fantasy?

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