Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts
September 14, 2012

Magic Realism And Three Women - A Review

Fractured LegendFractured Legends -  Kranthi Askani
Publishers - APK Publisher
Genre - Speculative fiction - Contemporary fantasy - magic realism - women's fiction
Novel - Paperback - 200  Pages
Price: Rs 192
Available at  (India)

We are like the moths that follow invisible spiral loops to go round and round a flickering flame before jumping into the center leaving in their wake, a glowing red sore in the eye of the flame,” says the narrator, a temple slave. Priyambada makes up her mind to leave the temple where she melt into flesh at night and froze into statue by the morning. She renounces her immortal chalices, the temple facades, for a mortal life, for a life in flesh... But the tangles of life in flesh – marriage and bearing children – thrust her into a world of tribulations that cast her off into the past, sealed past, frozen past...
Nandhini, a professional assassin, is plagued by an assignment to retrieve a mysterious manuscript that is smeared with a rope of blood across its pages. She finds herself in the midst of a complex game of deceit and rivalry between two factions... Pravalli is drafting a very long letter to her mother. She is grieving, glowering, repenting, atoning....
Fractured Legend is the story of these three women who are sailing away from their turbulent pasts, the denouement puzzlingly curling them all together into one tight ribbon of hope...

This narrative follows the lives of three women - Priyambada who as a temple slave is immortal, but forgoes it for a human life and goes through the cycle of marriage & childbirth. Though she can't make a clear break from her past; she is happy in her new life. Nandhini is a trained assassin eliminating people for a price. She is entrapped by a close relative to kill someone related to her job, and for the first time in her life wonders at the futility of it all. Pravalli, on the other hand, is estranged from her mother Priyamvada over the secrets of the past, and is writing a letter of forgiveness and trying to come in terms with her mother's behaviour. The story progresses through the eyes, actions and reactions of the three female protagonists.

I liked the use of magic realism to get the tale across. That the book is based on a female perspective focusing on the trials and tribulations of Indian women (some of these aspects have universal connotation) makes it interesting enough to plow through the slow first 1/3 of the book.

The author had tried to portray the heroines (each of them is one in their own right) in a humane, understanding and empathic manner. He has attempted to infuse a vintage feel to the grey of contemporary realities. The concept is intriguing enough, and comes as breath of fresh air among all the college romances and chick-lits floating on the Indian book scene. It shows a side of India, applicable to many regions of the world, where women are struggling to assert themselves, while being bound to often well meaning but grossly misused traditions and customs.

 If you can leave aside all rational expectations of the world we inhabit, the book has the ability to move you with the sadness, pain and loneliness of the three women. The secondary characters, especially the husband - Priyamvada’s and son - Nandhini’s stand out, though their presence in the book is limited. The women move back and forth through their memories, dream a lot and often traverse between the real and surreal world. The author has left us with an open ended story, maybe a sequel is in line. 

 On the flip side, the author uses a dry narrative style of storytelling throughout the novel. The lack of dialogues makes it a very distracting read. For someone used to books, even long winded classic ones, with flowing conversations, this can be a difficult book to attempt and read through. The sentence structure  is awkward, and the overuse of adjectives and adverbs could have been avoided.

I am not sure I could recommend this book to a reader in its current version despite descriptive and detailed analysis of the lives of contemporary women and use of magic realism. A major review of the language usage and a rewrite would do wonders for this book. 

I would give this book a 3/5 rating basically for the debut effort, for attempting a book without the prejudices of the male point of view and for choosing a difficult women's related story.

Personal Disclaimer: This book was recieved for the purpose of review, hence the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book. It is not based on intervention by the author, publishing house or the blog review forum.
April 14, 2012

Waiting for Some Inter Dimensional Romance - A Book Review

The Waiting Booth - Brinda Berry
Publishers Etopia Press  
Genre - Speculative Fiction - Fantasy/Paranormal/  Young Adult - Romance
Ebook - 186 pages, Price $ 5.99
Available at Amazon Kindle Store


Mia has one goal for her senior year at Whispering Woods High--find her missing older brother. But when her science project reveals a portal into another dimension, she learns that travelers are moving in and out of her woods in the most alarming way and government agents Regulus and Arizona are policing their immigration. Mia’s drawn to the mysterious, aloof Regulus, but it’s no time for a crush. She needs to find out what they know about her brother, while the agents fight to save the world from viral contamination. But when Regulus reveals that he knows Mia’s secrets, she begins to wonder if there’s more going on than she thought...and if she was wrong to trust him...

This is a debut novel by the author Brinda Berry in the young adult – fantasy category. The protoganist Mia has a neurological condition, synaesthesia where the mixing of the senses enables her to see colors within sounds, smells, and words. 
The story begin in a calm, everyday manner with high schooler Mia’s interaction with a busy but protective father, musings over her missing elder brother Pete and her science project in the woods adjoining their rather secluded home. Austin and Em are Mia's best friends, though Austin would like to trade the friend tag for something more, something Mia can’t see him as.
It is the chance photographing of seemingly shady characters Regulus and Arizona that hurtles her into a far secretive, deceptive and at times dangerous world beyond the ordinary. She is literally pushed into the other dimension in her part of the woods with Regulus and Arizona turning out to be “enforcers” with an inter-dimensional monitoring agency IIA.
Their apparent knowledge of her brother and their story makes them trustworthy but a series of incidents and interactions with her project mentor threatens to change everything to a point where she doesn't know whom to trust.
The primary characters, Mia and Regulus are strong and vulnerable in their own way. Their romance is slow given their initial and subsequent meetings and picks up in a subtle manner as the story unfolds .
The secondary ones like Arizona and Austin whom we may see more of in the later books,  shine through with humour and risk taking loyalty respectively.
The concept of portals which I expected to reveal an alien world but unveils a totally different one was a great move by the author. The act of betrayal at the end is again unexpected though the way the scenes are incorporated left me with an unsettled feeling as a reader. Maybe, the next book will expand on it and make it clearer.
There are sweet romantic moments towards the end which fall in the sweet category of romance rating - Sweet -> Hot -> Spicy.
I give this a 4.2 rating. 
Overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to lovers of YA fantasy that is not based on magic.

I received a copy for review through the group Knights of the Round Table on Goodreads. 

Personal Disclaimer: Though this book was a free copy received for the purpose of review, the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book. It is not based on intervention by the author, publishing house or the book forum.
March 27, 2012

The Dance - New Beginnings

 This piece is for the blogfest at Unicornbell.

"Dya*, hurry. They are coming." I panted through the half open door. My ribs ached with every short breath taken.
Had never run so fast, doing 5 miles without a pause. The silence from within caused strange sensations in my stomach. The hinges creaked in annoyance as I pushed the obstruction away. The room was in disarray, everything upturned. From the centre of the hall I could see that none of the adjoining areas had been spared. There were wet, muddy shoe and foot prints overlapping as though jostling for valuable space.Three clear sets led me to the bottom of the stairs, to the bedrooms above. I crept up slowly unsure of what lay in wait, the Swiss knife transferred from the back pocket to my trembling hands.
I wouldn't wish the scene before my eyes on even Stefanek, the village bully. I vomited my morning meal on the dirtied carpet under my feet. A low moan from the nearest figure brought to life my fleeting courage. Wiping away the hot, furious tears I stumbled forward. She was still breathing. The book was safely hidden for now. I covered the shredded remains of her dress with a blanket, lifted her in my arms as tenderly as I could and fled through the back door.
I have been standing for more than an hour in the abandoned house on the hillock, watching with tired eyes and limbs the devastation below. Half glad Aishe* wasn't with me, conjured a mental image of the agonised screams of the dying. Her kind heart would have never permitted this. The other half willing to give up the world to see her awake and smiling. The swirling, blackish grey waters mirrored the stain on my soul. Large carcasses of their livestock and pieces of wood, the remnants of their mighty houses and boats floated idly along. Pity, a couple of young trees had to give way. The flood waters would take a week or more to recede, competently destroying whatever stood in their way including the fresh harvest.
This has been the most exhilarating dance I have ever attempted. The river, my companion and slave mimicked my movements as she spread over the accursed village. I played the Kristora* sparing the villages that didn't harm us. The memories gushed back, uninvited. My father's pleas of innocence falling on deaf, hateful ears. His last words before they staked him, "Make them pay."
They stole our land, our home, murdered my mother, violated the elder sister beyond human endurance. She sleeps the sleep of the living dead. 
A tiny hand tugs at my shirt sleeve, whining,  "Let's go. It's cold here."
I pull him into the warmth of my arms reluctantly, the adrenaline still coursing through my veins screaming 'Enemy'. Our clan control the elements, a gift passed from the mother to her first born. Grandma refused to let him die, so he lives to see the death of his unknown fathers with his eyes. My father had been the youngest of six, as powerless as the the ones who accused him of black magic.
I stood silently for a few minutes more before trudging back to the trees, the tall pines already casting their needles on the floor.
Harman* loves the rustling sounds around us. He turns back and forth in jerky movements causing my shoulders to ache some more.The clan believes that the winter winds are less harsh since his birth. We live deep in the forest. The ignorant folks in the valley below think it is enchanted and evil and refuse to enter. Sometimes, blind faith can be a blessing. We planted the stories for our survival.
The ancient book says that our ancestors came from the East, from the land of seven rivers. One day, we will journey back, beyond the narrow confines of our adopted homeland. Harman and me.
We live in tents now, easier to assemble and dismantle in times of danger. Grandma is waiting by ours with a scowling face. She knows, always does. 
"Where have you been wandering about at this hour?"
"Nowhere. Just attending to some unfinished business." as he jumps out of my hold and scampers off to the dinner fires.

Wc 703

*Dya - Mother, Kristora - the judges.
* The words used are Romani - the language of the Romas, the gypsies of Europe whose ancestors are said to have migrated  from northern and central India around 1000 years ago.
Linguistic and genetic studies prove with reasonable accuracy that they belong to existing Indian tribes of travelling musicians.
* I wanted to give the dancing aspect a magical touch.
January 22, 2012

Thrill Or Trick - Epilogue

I apologise to all my centusians and commenters for not responding last week.
 Not been well for a while, taking the blood test for the incessant cold and cough.
I should be able to get to regular blogging soon, don't miss me too much. ;D

For Saturday Centus at Jenny Matlock's blog...any genre, P.G as far as possible, not to exceed 150 words. Based on the literary device of a cliffhanger...this is the epilogue of the story that concludes the last two weeks' posts of cliffhanger and  resolution respectively.. Check the others afterwords there.

Ali and Simi trudged up the slope... the others would have gathered on the top by now.
Ali looked at the plains in grim silence.
 Simi walked quietly beside, the ideal travel and sparring partner to her twin, though she was hard pressed as to why he didn't fly the carpet.
Reading his thoughts, “ This journey is as much for her as Shammi Uncle, isn’t it?”
He looked at her for a moment and responded, “ I promised to protect her and failed.”
“You saved her life…the healer says that her soul is lost in the void, not left her body yet.”
Ali smiled,a first in many months.
There were many sad eyed, happy faces that stared back at them.
“How is Ria?” asked T.C as a small group approached them.
“ The same since you  last visited.”
“Come children, change into your robes, the memorial chants begin shortly.”

January 16, 2012

Thrill Or Trick - 2

 Part  1 is  the previous post.

Shammi replied “The Green Dew.”
Simi looked at him, a fear and question in her eyes as the others looked to the edge.
Ria or her lack thereof forgotten.
“Gather your clan children here,  protect them all.”  Time to seek his estranged warrior brothers, their very existence at stake.

 Image Courtesy Libertatea

For Saturday Centus at Jenny Matlock's blog...any genre, P.G as far as possible, not to exceed 50 words. Based on the literary device of a cliffhanger...this is the second part of last week's cliffhanger to conclude the story.. Check the others hanging offs there.

*Not keeping well, hence will get back in a day or two, my fellow centusians.
January 07, 2012

Thrill Or Trick - Part 1

"Some things never change around here." Simi poked around trying to fish out the harried souls.
The souls in question seeking solace from the stern elders, often alone or in groups of two and three by the lake.
'Sharing secrets inside the mansion walls was both embarrassing and dangerous' opined the teenagers.
This bunch was not smarter than the ones in the preceding years but used a different system of disguises. Hard to know if the portly, middle aged man she detected was indeed Shammi Uncle.
'Offending a senior member of the household meant hanging off a cliff like... Ria...
what the hell was that?'

Google Image modified

For Saturday Centus at Jenny Matlock's blog...any genre, P.G as far as possible, not to exceed 100 plus the prompt in bold. Based on the literary device of a cliffhanger...that is, the second part next week will complete the story.. Check the others hanging ons there.
October 23, 2011

A Story Grows

For Saturday Centus at Jenny Matlock's blog.. any genre, p.g as far as possible, not to exceed 100 words using the prompt in bold to create a story on the picture this time around....
Water the other saplings there.

I saw him there, busy with his axe slicing through the branch he was seated at the edge of. I screamed almost,  ‘you will fall down, you dolt!!’ The watch could only let me stay not change. 
Countless retelling didn’t prepare me for gravity’s working. He fell; branch, the weapon and all.

Could he be the Master, history proclaimed him to be? The language he choose, as classical as his imaginative works.
Were they even his? Didn’t the skeptics say The Bard too was a fake?
I would prove them wrong. I planted a little story seed and out sprouted "Of Shakuntala recognised by a token"*.

* It was among the first Sanskrit works to be translated into English . Written by Kalidasa,  believed to have lived around 4th century CE and sometimes referred to as the "Shakespeare of India".
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