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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Writer, coffee shop and a broken pencil (#14 W.O.W)

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The centrum of the Simrishamn city was crowded today. I was hoping on getting some me time and not be troubled by the terrible music that filled the arena. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the Swedish singer’s moaning, but I had to get away. The jazz was slowly killing my buzz.

You may think that I am total moron for saying that, but I believe that a writer’s volcano of creativity erupts depending upon the setting and music. Sadly, my taste in music is fickle and I can never decide what I like the most.

I was determined to find the quietest coffee-shop that did not have an adjoining bar. Yes, that is what happens when you decide to drink coffee in Europe. There is always that bar that comes along with the deal. I am not a huge fan of bars or anything remotely related to it.

My legs were begging me to find that perfect spot in this amazingly cozy corner to start my new novel. Maybe God had different plans for me today and I had to cramp myself in the common table with an extremely hot guy one side and a potentially lesbian female on the other. Not that I am against gayness or anything, I am an uncomfortable person and I always love to stay away from people, generally.

I opened my brand new copy of the Maze Runner and smiled at the mere perfection of it. I rummaged through my knapsack to find my pouch and as I yanked the zip open, I found two blue gel pens and a broken pencil. Neither of which could be used to inscribe my name and the date of purchase on the front page. It was a trying day, indeed.

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

#5 Five Sentence Fiction : Bubbles

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Harini was once unmarried, full of life, fun-loving, until she lived in that beautiful little bubble of hers.

But then she decided to get married and she slowly realised that she had to sacrifice more than she could, undesirably letting more people into her bubble.

Worry stitched her eyebrows together, thinning her bubble in the process as it enlarged in size.

She wasn’t alone anymore and it hurt more than she had imagined.

She broke and so did the bubble as there was no more room for herself, she had pushed herself too hard and she couldn’t breathe.

This week’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt is Bubbles.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

This post is a part of Five Sentence Fiction (Lillie McFerrin).

#4 Five Sentence Fiction : Changes

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Robin sat the foot of his mom’s bed, holding her fragile hand tenderly as she did not take his dad’s abandonment the same way he did. He withheld his unshed tears, made a promise to her and to himself that he was going to take care of everything, take charge of their lives and his. With his dad gone, unpaid bills would stack up, his sister would need to be guided and he would have to turn himself into the anchor of the family. Everything was going to change and he feared that the worst was yet to come.

This week’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt is Changes.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

This post is a part of Five Sentence Fiction (Lillie McFerrin).

#3 Three Word Wednesday : The other man

He glanced at his concubine, sprawled on the bed, revealing her milky body to him. She looked inviting and he was tantalized to spend the night with her in the little apartment. He did not care anymore, not of his wife or his children. He drowned himself in her sinful caresses and let her swallow him in her whimsical journey. He wanted to feel passion, raw passion that would make all the pain go away, just like that. How light it felt to not feel at all.

Somewhere, someplace filthy, his wife would be doing the same thing with another man. But why does the place have to be filthy? The thought comforted him in some way that she could not afford to hide her consort as luxuriously as he can. His blood boiled when he thought of her scandalously beautiful face pouting at the other mongrel.

His family was so broken that it was beyond redemption now. They had an unspoken agreement and somehow, they seemed to abide by it without any obstacles. The mutual understanding between the spouses was maddeningly peaceful. This should bother him, but he chose not to care, right? And yet here he is, wondering what she was doing with the other man. He hated her for that, because he could swear that she would not have second thoughts after jumping in bed with that bastard.

da083-3wordwednesday

This post is a part of Three Word Wednesday.