Rusty and the Magic Mountain



Rusty and the Magic Mountain

By : Anandam Ravi  /  2017

Rusty and the Magic Mountain

Rusty and the Magic Mountain
Ruskin Bond
Archana Sreenivasan
120 pages
Rs 299.00
ISBN: 978-0143333579
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There is a certain homespun nostalgia and comfort in Ruskin Bond, a feeling of being transported back to one’s childhood, dreamily listening, with your head on your grandma’s lap, as she tells you a story of a long time ago, a place far away. That is, if you’re an adult. If you’re a child fed on a diet of Harry Potter and Twilight and the Avengers, this book will perhaps open up a whole new world of adventure and action.

Ruskin Bond possesses a rare sort of style, evocative, yet simple, that rings of the mountains and valleys of Dehra Dun and Mussoorie that he writes about. Right from the poetic introduction to the way the tale is spun, the book beckons you in with its charm and simplicity, without artifice or flamboyance,.

Rusty and the Magic Mountain is a tale replete with innocent teenagers, magic hats and cats, mule rides to the top of the mountain, an evil hag, a beautiful but mysterious princess, and other delightfully old-fashioned plot constructs. It is far removed from today’s stories with evil all around. Here, one courts adventure, takes great pains, travels long distances, climbs tall mountains, and invites danger with open arms in order to find it.

Rusty and his friends, Popat and Pitamber, embark on their adventure and climb the much-feared, much-talked-about Witch Mountain and come face-to-face with gently spine-tingling thrills like mysterious faces against windows and cats that draw blood by relentless licking.
And yet, just when you are lulled into a predictable mildly horrifying thriller, the book startles with uncharacteristically bloody twists—such as, a guard being killed by a tiger as the boys watch. What makes this event even more chilling is the flippant way that it is described:

The tiger had dragged its victim to its lair to dispose of the body at leisure. An occasional aa-oonh! from the forest indicated that the other tiger was still in the vicinity.
“And now how do we get back?” asked Popat who had fervently decided that tigers were not his favourite animals.

But the book also provides a few serious takes on life and art for art’s sake.
The Rani asks Rusty and his friends to fetch her a magic musical stone from the top of the mountain:

“Does it have a purpose?” Rusty asks.
“Must everything have a purpose?” The Rani retorts, “Must a star have a purpose? Must a pretty sparkler have a purpose other than to emit light? Must a beautiful stone have a purpose?”

And later, when Rusty discovers another face to the beautiful princess, he protests:

“No! You can’t be two people! Not at the same time.”
“We are all two people—all the time,” the Princess responds.

Rusty and the Magic Mountain has all the wisdom and innocence that one would expect from it. The illustrations are good and well place, capturing much of the essence and mystery of the book. However, whether it will find favour in the bookshelves of today’s tweens and teens is something only time will tell.

Anandam Ravi is a corporate learning designer by profession and a writer at heart. She finds inspiration in lost keys, kitchen debacles, the world around and her children.



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