Friday, 12 April 2013
With a title like Tantra, the first thing people in the West associate with it, would be Tantric Sex and in India the immediate mental association would be with black magic - kaala jadoo. It is this generalisation and obscuration of the essence of tantra that prompted Adi to center his first novel - Tantra - around the other aspects of Tantra.
If that paragraph sounded confusing, don't worry because that's just me, not the book.
I think this is the first vampire slayer novel written by an Indian Author in English, set in India that I have read. Of course Indian mythology and fantasy is filled with vampires, vetaals, chudails, daayans and the like, but those stories are normally penned in regional languages or Hindi. So for me this was a first.
If you are expecting a mythology and fantasy filled book, you will be surprised. While there are strong mythological underpinnings to the skeletal structure of the story, it is set in an extremely contemporary setting.
So, our heroine - Anu Aggarwal, a leather outfit clad, New York bred Indian origin Guardian (vampire slayer - a la Buffy) requests a transfer to the India office in Delhi for reasons of her own, which she conceals from the guardian bureaucracy without realising what lies in wait for her.
The Delhi office is woefully understaffed (only 3 employees) and they have reached a truce of sorts with the vampires, which Anu can't wrap her head around. However the scenario that scares her more than this unnatural alliance, is her aunts single point agenda to get her married to a "nice Delhi boy"
Anu is forced to navigate dekhaan dikhais and marriage minded parents of eligible young boys at elaborate Delhi weddings, with more agility than staking vampires.
The battle of Good and Evil in Delhi is much more complicated than it was in New York, where to paraphrase Arya Stark - all she had to do was "stick em with the pointy end" Here in Delhi, alliances have to be made for the greater good. There are stronger forces in play, that are not easily comprehensible and she can use all the help that she is given.
People familiar with Delhi and its party/wedding scene, will find themselves nodding vigorously in agreement with a lot of the scenes. Hence Delhi is almost another character in the book. This installment couldn't have been set anywhere else in India without losing its humor.
Tantra is extremely easy to read because the writing style flows naturally and easily. The plot holds up very well, with enough information being withheld to make this a page turner.
Adi has also very smartly, not resolved the major motivational scenario in this book, ensuring that readers will definitely ask for more in the series.
Some minor editing work still needs to be done to clear up a couple of mistakes, but all in all it was a good read.
The book has a few pages of adult content (sexual fantasy), so I can't recommend it for younger readers, which is a pity. Because the book could have been written without those scenes, without losing anything, and since the language is so easy to read, it would have appealed to the tween reading audience too. But that is a decision that is the authors to take and parents will have to read and decide if they are comfortable with their children reading the book or not.
I am definitely looking forward to the next in the chronicle and fortunately for me, unlike Game of Thrones or the Shiva trilogy, there is some sense of closure at the end of the book. Which makes the waiting easier to bear.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
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