Book Review: Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan –

Asha and her family live in the foothills of the Himalayas. Her father has gone to work in  the big city, to earn more money for his family. But nothing has been heard from him for months. No money has arrived and debt collectors are bullying Asha’s mother. Asha and her best friend Jeevan decide they have to do something and that involves finding her father. Armed with an address in the big city, they run away, to travel to the temple at the head of the Ganges, to pray for help and then on to the big city. It isn’t an easy journey, but they have help in the form of a lamagaia, a bearded vulture, which Asha believes is the spirit of her grandmother,  who has passed away.

Full of adventures including a close encounter with a snow tiger, this is a wonderful debut novel. The descriptions of the Himalayas, from the foothills to the temple at Karase, the noisy chaos of the big city, Zanapur, all come together beautifully.

Jasbinder Bilan is a graduate of the wonderful creative writing MA at Bath spa university.

I can remember her coming into the children’s library in Bath a few years ago and telling me she was starting a new adventure at Bath Spa University and going to take an MA in creative writing. Well that adventure has created Asha and Javeen and brought us the smells and colours of Asha’s mother’s cooking.

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