Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Review: Dark Things Between Shadow & Soul: Fractured Fairy Tales From Indian Mythology by Sudha Kuruganti

Title: Dark Things Between Shadow & Soul: Fractured Fairy Tales From Indian Mythology 
Author: Sudha Kuruganti
Publisher: Kindle (self)

Genre: Fiction (Short stories)

Date:  2016

Price: INR 149/ $2.25(Kindle) - Free on Kindle Unlimited

Pages: 204

Some books are to be read from cover to cover, this is one. Though you have to give a pass at the cover which for all aesthetic reasons you might value a lot and may even end up judging a book by that, its worth giving a benefit of doubt to the content beyond. The reason is once you get the vibe of why the author thought is a necessary book, you start appreciating it all the more. Since there was a lot of fiction in books and television series around Greek, Roman ad Christian myths, she felt Indian stories deserved as well to be rewritten with a hint of fiction and that is a great step as there are great plots and so they deserve to be told but it has many challenges in terms of multiple characters, complicated phenomena which is difficult to portray.

For the uninitiated, the writer has included a brief to the characters, original epics etc. covered in the book to a sufficient extent to be able to grasp clearly, everything, something I really appreciate when writing for a global audience and if you have ever read Hindu mythology being a non-Hindu you will surely too. Its just a larger version of game of thrones with ten times more characters. 

The book is further divided into sections based on the source of the story i.e. Vedas, a specific group of Gods, Ramayana and Mahabharata.  I wouldn't call them fractured tales but more of as reflections from the past or extrapolation of the same characters and situations with some tweaks on a new canvas. Like a more perfected version of Sherlock stories but in 21st Century with gadgets and all. To top that she gives the much needed benefit of doubt to each character and portrays them in a new light. For those familiar with Mahabharata would understand that no character therein was entirely dark or bright; every bright character flawed multiple times with consequences and every dark character had a brighter side. Since we know all that and have read a lot of re-telling tales, this book is a breath of fresh air or only the crux is derived from them and mixed with a different spice to deliver an entirely new dish- its should in all honesty be termed as fusion mythology if at all one needs to do so. From a readers perspective it gives uniqueness ad novelty instead of repetition and the writer has done full justice to the entertainment factor in the stories. 

There are stories with Gods using 3G, the mythological amalgamation of dream sequences - a very different yet effective version of the movie inception, personification of God's, exploring emotions of characters unspoken and comparing the struggles of women then and now. If I enlist my favorite stories half of the book will be covered but being strictest in the sense of judgement after going through them multiple times. So my favorite stories are: 'Not a Love Story'  exploring emotions of two people only meet as strangers though they are long lost warriors, 'If You Don't Succeed At First'  a story of multiple incarnations and lessons from each which truly gave me the feeling of final shot of the Matrix Trilogy, 'Miles To Go' on Kumbhakarana's sleep, Heart Of Stone , a brilliantly explored science fiction extrapolated from Ahalya's story. Topping this list again are 'What Doesn't Kill Me' a truthful 21st century extrapolation of my favorite character - Draupadi and best of all probably out of bias for strength of a woman 'Best Served Cold'  which you must just read.

So all in all a great start to what the writer wanted to achieve and if TV series producers from anywhere are looking for an inspiration for an Indian science-mythology fiction series some of these stories will look amazing on screen. Till then readers do not miss out on this book (its free on kindle unlimited) if you an ardent fan of the genre and the writer should begin writing the next one for which we anxiously wait.

Rating: 4/5 

About the author: Sudha Kuruganti has been writing since she was a kid of thirteen, first starting out in fanfiction. Her short stories have been published in "Reading Hour", in an anthology from Indireads, "The Long and Short of It", and have featured on All India Radio. She's been interviewed by "The Times of India" and has been a featured blogger on Sulekha.com. She's now working on a novel, paranormal thriller about an ordinary girl caught in a deadly situation. Find updates on her fiction here (https://sudhakuruganti.wordpress.com).

When she's not writing, Sudha works at a nine-to-five crafting corporate communications at a multinational organization in Gurgaon, India. In her spare time, she loves reading, working on various DIY projects, trying out new cake recipes and blogging at her website, "Clouds in my Coffee" (http://coffee-clouds.com).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for your kind words! I'm really glad you liked this book! :)

    Awesome to know your favourites are "What Doesn't Kill Me" and "Best Served Cold" - glad to know the stories hit their mark! :)

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