Pirate-fan Oop (Upendra) is irritated at having to look after his little sister Lila (fan of unicorns and the colour pink) at the Mega Mela, particularly when Lila steals a bag of wish candy from a mysterious fakir. One piece of candy (and one unguarded wish) later, the two are embroiled in an adventure as the pirates of the Scarabean Sea fight for survival against the mighty Brutish Empire.
In the early stages of the book, at least for this (adult) reader, a large part of the fun is in working out the geography of this alternate version of our world—although for readers more willing to go with the flow, a helpful glossary of places and their real-world equivalents is provided at the end. An old-fashioned map, created by Shenoi (whose detailed illustrations really enhance this book), offers a hint at the beginning of the kind of story we’re about to read. The travels of the children and their pirate comrades span the sea-monster-infested breadth of what we know as the Indian Ocean, from Bombazine Bay off the coast of the Indric Lands, past the islands of the Maldidas and the Seashells, to Racsagadam and Ossa Mala. *In the process, Lafont creates a sense of a rich, interconnected world with clear links to our own history. Even most of the characters are based on recorded historical pirates, again with a glossary at the end and a list of names for a reader to look up.