Title: City of the Plague God
Author: Sarwat Chadda
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: January 12, 2021
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, an adventure based on ancient Mesopotamian mythology written by Sarwat Chadda, author of the Ash Mistry series. Characters from the Epic of Gilgamesh populate this high-stakes contemporary adventure in which all of Manhattan is threatened by the ancient god of plagues.
Thirteen-year-old Sik wants a simple life going to school and helping at his parents’ deli in the evenings. But all that is blown to smithereens when Nergal comes looking for him, thinking that Sik holds the secret to eternal life.Turns out Sik is immortal but doesn’t know it, and that’s about to get him and the entire city into deep, deep trouble.
Sik’s not in this alone. He’s got Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, on his side, and a former hero named Gilgamesh, who has taken up gardening in Central Park. Now all they have to do is retrieve the Flower of Immortality to save Manhattan from being wiped out by disease. To succeed, they’ll have to conquer sly demons, treacherous gods, and their own darkest nightmares.
Thirteen-year-old Sik helps out with his parents’ deli in Manhattan. One night, he’s attacked by demons who were working with the plague god Nergal. Their deli is destroyed and his parents are left in the hospital with a mysterious virus. Sik is rescued by his new friend Belet who lives with a god of her own. Nargal insists that Sik is hiding an item that Sik’s brother sent back from Iraq just before he died. Sik and Belet have to find this item, with the help of the hero Gilgamesh, to save their city and Sik’s parents.
I have never read Mesopotamian mythology before, or even the epic story of Gilgamesh, so this was all new to me. I loved learning about the different gods and their stories. The story was set in the familiar city of New York, so I could picture everything that happened, even though the characters were all new.
This story addressed racism and Islamophobia. Sik’s friend Daoud was an actor, but he had accepted the fact that he was always going to be cast as the villain or a terrorist. He wouldn’t be the hero. Luckily in this story, Sik is a Muslim hero. This racism was disturbing because it’s so outrageous and doesn’t make any sense. I’m glad that books like this can be published, because I love reading about different cultures. My favourite books are the ones that teach me things, and I feel like I learned a lot from this one.
This is a great story in the Rick Riordan Presents collection!
Thank you Rick Riordan Presents for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Tristan Strong Punches a Hold in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Have you read City of the Plague God? What did you think of it?