Publication date: March 15th, 2016
Pages: 204, Kindle Edition
Links: Goodreads | Amazon India
Enter a world where demons fall in love with deities, the unquiet dead are exorcised with food, and the love story of a shape-shifter and an ordinary man ends in tragedy.
Featuring cross-dressing assassins, were-snakes, gods and goddesses, demonesses and asura kings, this collection of twenty-two short stories retells famous legends to serve up age old tales from Indian mythology—with a twist.
With footnotes and an afterword to each story explaining the mythology to casual readers, these short stories will delight lovers of the unusual.
“Isn’t it funny how trusting husbands are? How easily they eat the food put in front of them by their wives, without ever wondering if there might be something wrong with it.
You could mix anything in it, and they would never know.”
I stumbled upon Sudha Kuruganti’s blog when I was vehemently searching for some worthwhile Baahubali fan fiction. She had posted a bewitching fanfic titled ‘Elemental’ and I was bowled over. There was just so much depth and justification to each character in the description of the piece and that’s when I realized that I had to check out her book. Oh, and also, the book cover screamed badass women!
Growing up, I’ve always had a fascination for Hindu Mythology much to my parents’ surprise. It’s not like they banned reading material related to the genre but just surprised because I grew up in Dubai and they wondered where the sudden interest sprouted from. My neighbor next door from Rashidiya was a Brahmin and she believed in inculcating the Hindu culture from a very young age in her only child – Mithun. With this kid being tight with my younger brother, he was more than happy to lend us his brand new Ramayana cartoon disc. That’s where it all began and the rest, as they say, is history.
After resolving a bunch of annoying glitches in my Kindle account in correspondence with the Amazon tech support, I finally got my copy of Dark Things and might I say that it was worth all the trouble!
Dark things between the shadow and the soul is a compilation of twenty-two short stories based off of Hindu Mythology. There are five sections in this book with contemporary tales focused on the Vedas, Trimurti, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Urban Legends & Myths. If you are a newbie to the Indian Mythology genre, then you just got lucky! Because there is an additional primer to all you need to know about Hinduism or Indian mythology. Bonus features include wiki-links to unfamiliar terms and footnotes at the end of each story with a gist of the actual myth.
To begin with, the title is positively intriguing and promising. The contemporary counterparts of the original characters were staggeringly justified in their portrayals, especially Parashuram, Surpanakha, Mohini and Amba (My personal faves). The varying shades of the respective characters intensified with the unexpected twists in each story. What’s not to love about this book when it has horror, romance, murder, psychologically thrilling elements and much more.
This book confuted pre-conceived and clichéd depictions of the characters you know and love. Sheer raw darkness was brought out in even the haloed characters such as Ram in To the victor and Surpanakha, the malefic demoness (we all know and hate) got to tell her side of the story. Be it the revelation of Sugreeva’s true intentions or Parashuram’s appalling vindication of his mother’s murder, both the scenarios maneuver to the characters just being human. Meaning, it reflects human emotions like jealousy and rage which were personified beautifully.
Best served cold was my personal favourite, hands down! By the time I was done with the story, my chest heaved with a primal gratification (you’ll know when you read it). Let me just say that it was one in the morning when I caught up to Storyteller and my reaction wasn’t a pretty sight (panting hard), nevertheless, I was ecstatic because it was a tale based on Vikram and Vetaal (freaking grew up with the cartoon series). As for Timeless, the final punch was quite poignant and immensely enjoyable.
Lastly, the language employed was competently satisfying and quick paced. Although I haven’t read many books based on Hindu mythology, I grew fond of this particular book almost immediately. Like I said before if you’re looking to give this genre a try, you better start with this one!
Note: The blurb is borrowed from goodreads.
Do check out Sudha Kuruganti’s blog for bonus stories from Dark Things and other cool fan fiction!