Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is the first book under the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, but does it have a wider connection to the Percy Jackson world?
Aru Shah is about a young girl who finds out she’s the daughter of a Hindu god. Sound kind of familiar? If you’ve read Percy Jackson and the Olympians, it will. All the books under Rick Riordan Presents should appeal to fans of the author’s middle grade works — they’re about kids discovering just how real mythology actually is.
Rick can’t (and knows he shouldn’t) write all the books he wants to about the various mythologies from around the world, so he’s using his new imprint to promote the authors who can write them. First up is Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah and the End of Time, which was a worthy title to launch the imprint.
If you’re hesitant about jumping into a new mythological series that isn’t written by Rick Riordan, don’t be. Aru Shah has all the hallmarks of what makes Percy Jackson so great, but it’s got a different flavor to it, partly thanks to Chokshi’s refreshing writing and partly because this series centers around Hindu mythology.
But if you’re a big PJO fan, I bet I know one major question that’s on your mind: Does Aru Shah and the End of Time exist within the Percy Jackson Universe?
The truest answer is we don’t know.
The most hopeful answer is maybe.
As I was reading Aru Shah, I was scouring every sentence for even the slightest reference to Percy Jackson. I didn’t expect Chokshi to name-drop Percy himself, but even a playful allusion to Rick Riodan’s world would’ve given me plenty to think about while I waited for the next book in the series (Aru Shah and the Song of Death) or the next book under this imprint (The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes).
And guess what? I found something!
On page 119, our heroes Aru, Mini, and Boo find themselves in the Night Bazaar. It’s masked to look like a giant Costco, yet it’s anything but ordinary. Aru and Mini learn that there are plenty of people in the world who may look like them but are, in fact, connected to the Otherworld.
“But if you are asking whether they all have a connection to an Otherworld…Yes.”
“Like theirs,” said Boo. “Whatever their version of the Otherworld happens to be. But let’s not get into the question of metaphysics. Many things can coexist. Several gods can live in one universe. It’s like fingers on a hand. They’re all different, but still part of a hand.”
It’s at this point that a redheaded girl steps inside a Christmas tree, her mother immediately admonishing her.
“Come out of there, now!” she said. She had an accent. Irish? “I swear on the Dagda, I’ll–”
The woman yanked on one of the pine branches, pulling it like an ear, and hoisted the girl out of the tree. The girl looked very unhappy.
“Every. Time,” said the woman, who appeared to be the girl’s mother. “This is why you’re not allowed in parks. Maeve, my goodness, when your father learns that you…”
It’s at this point that the girl and her mother move out of earshot of Aru. But it’s too late for me. I’ve been ruined. I can’t stop thinking about how it’s possible that this book — and potentially every book under Rick Riordan Presents — could be set in the same universe.
If you’re unfamiliar, the Dagda is an Irish god. He’s basically the Zeus or Odin in Irish mythology — the supreme being, the father figure. Trees are also hugely important, with the Scots pine tree being particularly revered because it’s one of the oldest. It symbolizes eternal life, fertility, prosperity, and vitality.
In Irish mythology, Maeve was an archetypal warrior queen, but it sounds like the young redheaded girl may be some relation to a wood sprite.
Either way, if Irish mythology and Hindu mythology definitely exist within Aru Shah, then it’s completely possible Percy Jackson and Aru Shah might also live in the same universe.
Does this mean there will ever be a giant crossover series where all these heroes come together to fight against a Thanos-style supervillain ready to take over the galaxy? I’d say that’s a pretty big probably not, but I’m okay with that. Just the idea that Percy’s world continues to grow, even outside of Rick’s books, makes me all kinds of happy.