KUMARI Goddess of Gotham

Children's Books

By Amanda Lees

Publisher : Piccadilly Press

ABOUT Amanda Lees

Amanda Lees
I'm an author of adult, young adult and children's fiction and non-fiction.  I'm also an actress, screenwriter, journalist & broadcaster. So many hats to wear and I love them all!



New York is full of thirteen-year-old girls who think

they’re goddesses.


But Kumari is the real deal.


And she doesn’t have a clue how she got there.


Kumari is a goddess-in-training who lives in a secret valley kingdom. She is destined to stay young forever, unlike people in the World Beyond.


But Kumari longs to break out of her claustrophobic life at the Palace, where her only real friend is a baby vulture and there is nothing to think about except the mystery of her mother’s death.


It’s hard to kill a goddess, but someone did.


And so Kumari steals away to the HolyMountain, determined to summon Mamma back from the dead and to find out the truth.


But the next thing Kumari knows, she’s in New York.


Surrounded by strange buildings and even stranger people, and running for her life…

KUMARI Goddess of Gotham was written as a tribute to my mum, who died a couple of months before I got the idea for a series which would reflect my own exotic upbringing. I wanted to celebrate an extraordinary person and an incredible life. I was born in Hong Kong to parents who indulged a thirst for travel and adventure which I have inherited. My father had spent many years in India and Nepal before meeting my mother in the middle of a steamy jungle in Borneo. I wanted to write the kind of book that encompassed my heritage. The sort of book I would have loved as a child and, indeed, an adult. This is a book that takes big themes and explores them with humour but also pathos. As someone who was sent to boarding school and hated it, it reflects that sense I always felt of being an outsider trying to fit in. As I wrote Kumari, I fell in love with her. She's gutsy and determined but also sensitive and all too fallible. I wanted her to epitomise the girls I see around me - young girls who are not afraid to take on the world on their terms and win through despite everything. Of course there are large parts of the thirteen year old me in her (and I'm not saying which parts!) but she's forever destined to be a creature apart and that is both her tragedy and her triumph.

‘A magnificent debut full of wit and humour…If you were to put a kingdom beyond the world, Manhattan, a goddess-in-training and a pet vulture you wouldn’t think there would be a story to be told.  Well you’d be wrong.  Amanda Lees has drawn these supposedly disparate elements together into something that really has more than a little something.  It’s wild, it’s wacky, it’s frightening and full of adventure. It’s an unmissable treat and the first in the Kumari trilogy.’ Lovereading4Kids


‘The heroine of Amanda Lees’s unusual and colourful debut, Kumari, Goddess of Gotham, is, like all the best heroines, plunged into a situation of menace right from the very start of the book, and she spends the rest of the novel trying to fight her way out of it. Unlike the many other self-indulged New York teenagers who preen themselves as if they were goddesses, Kumari is the real thing - a goddess-in-training from a royal kingdom, where her mother has recently died and her only friend is a bedraggled baby vulture named Badmash.

Kumari somehow finds herself in our world, the World Beyond, and is forced to adapt to strange buildings and odd people. Her initiation into modern American life is portrayed in a way that is both touching and funny - her first encounter with a burger, for instance, leaves her reeling in horror at the bread-like disc, with “yellow ooze spilling from its centre” and a side order of “pale strips, with some red sticky sauce”.

Used to people in her palace wearing elegant saris and sandals, Kumari is placed in the hands of a motherly foster carer who resembles a “giant plum” with her hair a dazzling confection of twisted curls topped off with mauve tips.

To make the unusual heroine appeal to today’s children, Lees cleverly allows her to pick up some of her new language from The Simpsons - with comic results - and ensures that she falls in love with a boy and has her first kiss.

The contrast between Kumari’s world and our own provides the dramatic tension over the course of this powerful and touching novel about an outsider trying to fit in.”

Vanessa Curtis, Glasgow Herald


Everyone should love this book……magical, different and has a baby vulture in it! What more could anyone require? I loved it!

Sue Chambers, Waterstone’s


‘An original mix of fantasy and reality. Kumari is a sweet, unusual and trend-setting new character.’ Chicklish


‘Kumari is a great heroine - feisty and determined, but also sweet-natured and lovable and entertainingly fallible.’ Write Away


‘Kumari is a gutsy heroine riding an entertaining rollercoaster of life.’

Julia Eccleshare