Thursday 9 December 2021

Book Review: The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd

The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd book cover

AD* | "For my whole life I had been looking for home. But why would that be in a place that I’d left? Perhaps I had to keep moving forward in order to find it..."

Soon after upending her life to accompany her boyfriend Ryan to the Arctic, Maya realises it’s not all Northern Lights and husky sleigh rides. Instead, she’s facing sub-zero temperatures, 24-hour darkness, crippling anxiety – and a distant boyfriend as a result.

In her loneliest moment, Maya opens her late mother’s recipe book and cooks Indian food for the first time. Through this, her confidence unexpectedly grows – she makes friends, secures a job as a chef, and life in the Arctic no longer freezes her with fear.

But there’s a cost: the aromatic cuisine rekindles memories of her enigmatic mother and her childhood in Bangalore. Can Maya face the past and forge a future for herself in this new town? After all, there’s now high demand for a Curry Club in the Arctic, and just one person with the know-how to run it...

Fragrant, spicy food contrasted with sub-zero temperatures and permanent darkness; The Arctic Curry Club is a beautifully written novel full of rich contradictions. It shouldn't work, but it does!

This is a story with a difference. Main character Maya jets off to Longyearbyen, a freezing town situated deep in the Arctic circle. Struggling with her anxiety and her unfamiliar surroundings, it's a rocky start to a new life for Maya. Her boyfriend Ryan, on the other hand, takes to Arctic life like a duck to water. 

However, Maya soon has no choice but to face her fears. Before long, she's started carving out a place for herself in Longyearbyen. Armed with her late mother's treasured recipe book, Maya is ready to take the Arctic by storm! 

Maya is a likeable and relatable main character. Although she does have her demons, she's also passionate and endearing - not to mention, she's an excellent cook! The biggest hurdle that Maya has to overcome, though, is her anxiety. It's so easy to relate to this part of her character on a personal level - from her fear of the unknown to catastrophising every little detail, all of Maya's deepest internal thoughts are laid out on the page. This humanises her and raises awareness of how difficult even the most seemingly mundane things can be for those who suffer from anxiety. 

Aside from this, though, The Arctic Curry Club is a foodie's heaven. The descriptions of the meals Maya makes are absolutely divine and it's all too easy to imagine the delicious aromas wafting through from her kitchen. Make sure you have plenty of snacks to hand when you read this book!

It's not just the food that is perfectly described, however. The essence of both India and the Arctic are captured with ease and described well enough that you can easily conjure these two vastly different parts of the world up in your mind's eye. 

Above all else, this is a story of finding yourself and your place in the world. Maya shows us that a little courage can go a long way - after all, you need to believe in yourself if you're going to succeed in life. 

Inspirational, heart-warming, and unexpectedly emotional, The Arctic Curry Club is a real gem.

Rating: 4 stars

The Arctic Curry Club is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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