This is the latest book from yet another fantastic graduate of the Bath Spa course on Writing for Young People. It is Jasbinder Bilan’s third book and this time she takes us to a remote Scottish Island, which is hiding a secret. Aarti has lived on the island for most of her life and can remember little else. She is looked after by her ‘Aunt’ and life is extremely hard. they are totally self sufficient, living off the vegetables they grow, the eggs from their hens and anything they can find on the island; the only friend that Aarti has is a fox that she calls Chand, although she doesn’t know where the name comes from.. However, as she grows older, Aarti begins to wonder if she is being told the truth about what happened to her parents and whether they are really dead. There is also the mystery of a locked room that she is not allowed to enter, but when it is left unlocked one day, she goes in and discovers an old stuffed toy that brings back some long-lost memories. One of the few things that Aarti has is a collection of stories about Hindu deities, hence the reference in the title to blue Gods; although why she has this is a mystery.
Unfortunately life takes a horrendous turn, when Aunt is killed as she tries to collect some sea bird eggs from the cliffs and Aarti is left totally on her own. To begin with she thinks she can manage, but then her supplies are ruined by rain and she realizes that a young girl cannot live by herself. Just as she is beginning to give up all hope, she finds a young boy floating in the sea and manages to save him. Euan is a young Scottish boy and talks to Aarti about his family and whether they will be able to leave the island and get back to more inhabited land. This raises the question of whether there is a boat on the island. Aarti has never seen one, but they realize that Auntie would have needed some means to get her and Aarti to the island in the first place. After lots of exploration they are finally successful in finding a small boat hidden away in a cave and eventually manage to bring it around to the small harbour. The pair manage to escape from the island and head in what they think is the general direction of other islands and the mainland. Thankfully the boat is rescued during a storm and the youngsters saved; however, that is when things take a very strange turn, because Euan is nowhere to be found and none of the rescuers had seen him on the boat. What happens next totally changes Aarti’s life and helps explain so much of her past, but it is her discoveries about Euan that will probably have the most profound impact on her future.
This is one of those books that keeps growing in its impact on the reader. When you start thinking of the stresses of living in that environment and then the questions about family and lack of communication, it really does make you understand just how bleak the whole way of life would be. This is definitely a five star read, for a whole host of reasons and I have become a great fan of Jasbinder’s work. we also have a fabulous cover and inside which draws together the two mythologies that are represented in the book. Hopefully it will encourage the young readers to explore these and see how different cultures share connections.