I love books that take me to places. In the case of The Conch Bearer, it is india. It's a modern day fairy tale and adventure story about a twelve-year-old boy named Anand, a believer in magic and living a destitute life with his mother and ill sister in the city of Calcutta.
One day, an old healer, attracted by Anand's faith in magic, shows up at his doorstep and entrusts him with a powerful magic conch shell. In exchange for curing Anand's ill sister, Anand must undertake a dangerous journey to the Himalayas to return the conch shell to its rightful owners, the Brotherhood of Healers. In every turn, he is shadowed by a powerful and ruthless villain who wants to possess the conch shell to increase his magical powers. The story takes readers from the grimy streets of Calcutta to the majestic mountains of the Himalayas, replete with roaring rivers that turn into something dangerous and alive. The narrative is beautiful and simple, the story fast-paced and told in a thriller-type fashion so that the reader knows exactly what sort of dangers Anand and his girl partner are getting themselves into.