BOOK REVIEW: Dark Things Between the Shadow and the Soul: Fractured Fairy Tales from Indian Mythology by Sudha Kuruganti

31836087Publication date: March 15th, 2016
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 204, Kindle Edition
Links: Goodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 4/5
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!

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For a thousand years

KlausCrying

 The scent of a new-born

His arms strap around

A farewell so afflictive

Tears don’t fight at the brim,

A proud father

After so many years

He’d lost count

Drinking away in misery,

His progeny changed everything

The second he laid his eyes

On the wailing infant,

Screeching for comfort

Finally, he had a reason

To exist

To care,

Protectively, he gripped her

With unknown tenderness

An instinct to lay out his life

For his blood.

KlausBaby

Tales of Asgard – (Fan Fiction)

Loki stared into space and wondered what triggered the murder of Frigga. It was not like any other day where he would sit in his golden chambers, sipping wine from bejewel goblets. He was wedged in a glass prison and just withstood the pain of the news that started to sink into his ears. But his heart rebelled, she cannot be dead, not the woman who clutched that scared dark-haired boy of seven years to her bosom.
Odin may not be his father but Frigga was every bit a mother to Loki as much as she was to Thor, and he was torn and shattered. But he never showed it. She was unbiased and loved him dearly, only person to do so in the whole of Asgard, or so he thought. What was he going to do about it?

Thor would never comprehend his love for Frigga. He would scoff it away as one of his schemes. It won’t always be a scheme, brother. I did love her as a mother and I still do, he thought. He was sentimental about her death and almost admitted to himself that he was having a psychotic break-down. This was not the typical bout of insanity that the Odin House has endured all these years, it was the death of Odin’s wife, Thor’s and Loki’s mother – Frigga. He never even dreamed about this even in the wildest of times or his conniving aspirations, never encircled the death of a woman whom he admittedly been in awe of his entire existence.
“Are you mourning?” A voice boomed through the thickest glass in all of the seven realms.

“What difference does it make, brother? At the end of the day, Frigga was your mother.” Loki drawled lazily.

“Brother, I cannot believe that you would whine about the insignificance of relationships forged by blood. She was and always will be a mother to the both of us!” Thor’s fingers clenched under his black shroud.

“Now what good would a bucket of emotions do to an immortal like me, brother? It would weaken and drag me into a pit of poignant turmoil and nothing more.” He jeered.

Thor stood in front of him, not knowing what to say to him, all the while he has been making numerous excuses to see his little brother, cast into the protection of a glass cell, all because of his chaotic ambitions. How it killed him, to see his brother shatter internally, he knew him all too well.

“Impressive cage, I must tell you. I think it lacks that sound-proof ability that I desire so much right now.” Loki spat and slid on the glass, tumbling to the floor. The nails of his fingers dug into his palm, drawing his precious immortal blood, which dripped intentionally. He closed his eyes and listened to his breathing pattern.

Thor placed a hand on the glass barricade and thought, You are not alone, brother.

Dimitri Belikov (Russian Dhampir) – Obsession Poetry V


How can you be so charming while fuming with rage
I guess your hotness is not kissed by age,

So tall and towering here you stand
Right into my wildest dreams is where you land,

When the wind blows your hair on your face
I swear I lost track of my pace,

Big brown eyes staring back from the sockets
Could send my heart roaring like rockets,

Words are helpless while describing your lips
Plunge it into chocolate and take a few dips,

The temperature seems fine when you’re not around
But you show up and fire surrounds,

Russian never sounded so sweet
Because you tend to turn up the heat,

Dimka, with you I would love to stay
Neglect this cruel world and go somewhere far far away.




Remy LaBeau A.K.A Gambit ( Mutant) – Obsession Poetry IV

King of hearts might be a card

But he knows how to play it hard,

 

A hot thief who seized my heart

Who now hesitates to depart?

 

When the word Cheri fills my ear

I realize that I need not fear,

 

Huddle me up in that trench coat

And in pure bliss I will float,

 

That dazzling smile under the starlight

Undeniably adds to my delight,

 

How can you be so roguish?

Not to mention utterly stylish!