Thursday, June 01, 2023

The Cobra's Song (A horror title, really!)

Kelkar, Supriya. The Cobra's Song
(Cover by Dana Sanmar)
May 16, 2023 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

The women in Geetanjali's family are reknowned classical singers, and she is looking forward to her grandmother, Aaji, visiting for the summer. Aaji is getting older, and might not be able to make the trip from India for much longer, so Geetanjali hopes to sing with her. Unfortunately, when she and her mother, Aai, sang at the Marathi Hindu new year, Gudhi Padwa, celebration, the song didn't go well. Now, Aai is busy with new baby Alaap, and isn't too worried about Geetanjali's singing. A neighbor, Heena Mavshi, had been visiting in India and helped Aaji get to the US, but is dealing with the death of her husband Jatin Kaka, which occurred when they were on their way to visit relatives. Heena Maavshi has met an old school mate, Naaglata, on the plane, and invited her to stay with her as she adjusts to her husband being gone. Geetanjali is a little worried about Lata Auntie, as she asks to be called, and finds something unsettling about her. Of course, there are other things going on over the summer. Geetanjali and her best friend, Penn, are working on a song for another celebration in their small town, but since Geetanjali is worried about her voice, she has pulled back. Penn is spending a lot more time with Deepak, with whom Geetanjali doesn't always get along. Aaji is getting frailer, and hiding things about the family's songs from Geetanjali. When snakes start being a problem in the neighborhood, and Heena Maavshi starts acting strangely, it is up to Geetanjali and her friends to figure out what is going on and save the day. 
Strengths: This took a LOT of twists and turns that I did not expect, and I don't want to ruin them by saying too much. This is definitely a fantasy horror book, and the cover, even with the cobra, doesn't necessarily reflect how dark this gets. If you like mice, be aware that a lot of them show up dead, with fang marks in them! This isn't too scary for elementary students, unless they have a deep seated fear of snakes. I did like all of the family stories, and the fact that Geetanjali got to connect with her grandmother, and younger readers will enjoy the friendship difficulties with Penn and Deepak. 
Weaknesses: I knew right away who the villain was because of the etymology of the name, and thoughtful Harry Potter readers might pick up on this as well! 
What I really think: This is very different from Kelkar's historical Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame or Ahimsa, or the modern day As American as Paneer Pie in that it is definitely a fantasy horror book. I'm not sure why I was so surprised by this! There's still lots of cultural references and strong families ties, but again, don't read this if you have a fear of snakes! 

Ms. Yingling


  1. With the cover, I would never have guessed this goes dark. That's too bad...because I wonder if the right readers will pick it up?

  2. And now I won't know where to put it in my genrefied library! Might need 2 copies to put it in different genres!

    1. Ms. Yingling9:04 AM EDT

      Afraid I can't help you there. My mind would explode if I had to work in a genrified library. I can find everything I need without the catalog now, and if I moved it... no. Nopity nope nope.