India, 1922. A curse seems to have fallen upon the royal family of Satapur, a princely kingdom tucked away in the lush Sahyadari mountains, where both the maharaja and his teenage son have met with untimely deaths. The state is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur’s two maharanis, the dowager queen and her daughter-in-law.
Here’s an exciting excerpt from The Satapur Moonstone!
As she walked, keeping her eyes on the path ahead of her, she saw how many roots there were—how many holes and ridges and places to trip. So many depressions were filling up with water, it was hard to know how deep the water was until she stepped in. If she twisted her ankle, she’d become an impossible burden. The men who had jogged so sure-footedly with the heavy palanquin weren’t singing any more; she imagined it was because their songs were fast-paced and she was forcing them to walk slowly. Or maybe they hated the rain, too.
She wondered if Colin had ever endured a failed palanquin ride. The ordeal of slogging through mud might be impossible with a wooden leg, but if he chose not to use it, his cane would also get stuck. Thinking of this made her step a little more quickly.
Eventually, her journey would end.
The dark rain cloud was both in front of them and behind, and rain continued falling in tiny, cold knife-pricks. She imagined it was probably raining at the circuit house, and that Colin was worrying about her.
When they came out of the trees, her boots were filled with mud. But the journey appeared to be almost done. Ahead lay what looked like a sentry’s tower.
‘We’re almost there!’ Perveen said, pointing to it.
‘No,’ Lakshman said. ‘That’s an old hunting tower.’
‘Should we wait there for the rain to stop?’ she asked hopefully.
Lakshman wiped water from his face before answering. ‘TheSatapur royal family used to hunt here because it is a good place for tigers and leopards. We are not so far from the palace. We should go on.’
Lakshman wanted to protect them all from predators and naturally wished to finish the job. She tried to form a picture in her mind of a bright, comfortable palace filled with lights and warmth. She had everything to look forward to, if she could just keep her feet moving.
After some time, she saw, through a break in the trees, a faraway wall. The wall stretched on. It looked like a walled city, but she was afraid to hear it was another place they couldn’t stay.
Lakshman smiled for the first time. ‘That is Satapur Palace! This is the place where you wished to come.’
She was too fatigued to answer, but his words made her legs move faster. As the fog cleared, she saw the wall was the facade of a giant grey stone palace punctuated with a series of towers topped by onion-shaped domes. The palace was so huge that it was surprising to see its massive arched entry protected by only two durwans. She
guessed they were guards from their blood-red livery, although they were not standing at attention but squatting under the entry’s filigreed brass roof to shelter from the rain.
It took fifteen minutes from first sight to reach the palace wall.
With a wide smile, Perveen rushed the last hundred feet to get underneath the entryway roof. But she realized that her movement looked like an affront, because the durwans cried out and grabbed their bayonets.
‘Do not worry, brothers! She has come to visit the maharanis,’ Lakshman said quickly. He had run up behind her.
‘It cannot be.’ One of the guards spat sideways as he regarded their party. ‘Who are you?’
Perveen realized that she was too bedraggled to look like anyone’s idea of a lady lawyer.
Resolve the mystery along with Perveen Mistry in Satapur Moonstone