Book Review: Tantra
I am going to let you on a secret. Many may tsk tsk me after they read this especially the ones amongst you who are some 4-5 years younger to me but this has to be let out before we get to the review of this book. I have not read Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer nor have I watched the movies based on the books which also means I have never drooled over Robert Pattinson but that is immaterial. The point is I am not a fan of vampire stories. The idea of fangs, pale faces and bites on the neck disgusts me enough to stay away from the genre, in any form paper as well as motion pictures.
Then why did I read Tantra, you ask?
Yes inspite of the blurb indicating clearly that it is vampire story and the cover being tacky, I volunteered to review the book – few reasons. Firstly the voracious reader cannot stay away from a debuting writer especially if he is trying to break away from convention, secondly the blurb – it indicated the vampire connection but it also brought to light the humor that may be part of the narrative and finally being The Tales Pensieve founder the Indian writer’s work beckoned me. So into a packed reading schedule wedged in Tantra.
Tantra is a vampire huntress, Anu Agrawal’s story. She is a professional guardian with some mentionable experience in killing vampires in New York City where she has always been based. But destiny turns. Always a loner for fear of the supernatural’s hurting her dear ones if she got close to anyone, she lets her guard down with one person. And he ends up dead with his throat torn out. She has only one clue and the destination of that clue is New Delhi. Inspite of vengeance being out of the rule for the guardians, Anu takes a job transfer to the Indian capital. She is in Delhi to snuff that vampire out without letting her organization know her motive while battling her over eager – typical Indian elder – type aunt who wants her to meet pretty boys and get married, as she is not getting any younger and she should hook up while she can. Vampire or no vampire, India has never been easy for the world to understand and this time again it is no exception. Anu discovers albeit somewhat late that there are greater threats to the city than vampires. There are dangers that don’t bite and convert you but can harm humanity without even touching. There is tantra and a power crazy god man. There are ancient invocations that still work in the modern world, still as potently as in the legends. And that they have severely hit the rock bottom with time running out on them sooner than they would wish for. Their only chance is if she can master an ancient mantra to invoke a weapon that takes years of energy accumulation and storage but all they have is a few days. And the idea of fighting alongside the vampires, though for the greater good, is against all her trainings and it disgusts her to no end.
Tantra for a debut is good. It’s most positive point is the pace of the narration; the book just glides from page to page effortlessly. The language and grammar, a major point, is undoubtedly another strong point especially looking at some books by Indian debut writers we have been subjected to in the recent past. There are some typos but overall it’s all good. Another strong point is the coming together of fantasy and mythology in the contemporary context; Adi has done well in blending both and kudos to that. The writer’s dry humor stands out through out the book especially in the dialogue interactions of Anu almost giving an American spy film type feel. The cool-answers- only type.
On the down side some flaws in the story inspite of the pace left me empty as a reader – firstly something about anu’s induction as a guardian would have helped especially when it was touched in the story, secondly the incident in NYC that got her to Delhi demanded a bit more detailing especially when the reader is subjected to the trauma that she underwent, her counter reactions, changed thoughts etc. The near-no knowledge of the incident does not allow the reader to empathize with her. Thirdly explaining something regularly used in the book like shifting should have helped (remember not everyone is a twilight fan) and fourthly Adi seems to have packed too much into one book which when the book is part of a series seems unwanted – like the whole idea of vampires in Delhi does not sink in; possibly because we are a country with no prior vampire history or speculation. The writer should have spent some pages on convincing the Indian reader that vampires in India could be a possibility. That would have given an idea of the power they could extort and the actions that followed would have given more high. Then before a no-vampire-stories reader could grasp much, Adi moves on to Tantra; again half-baked there too. Probably spacing out the information in the next book will help (atleast the readers). And fifth the book deserves a better cover, the colors are great but the design is tacky.
Overall it is a great attempt; inspite of not liking the genre Adi’s writing made me swift through the pages one after other making me even read through the lunch hours.
Recommended read for the twists, narration pace and the courage to attempt a new genre.
Watch the Words:
Who-so-ever’s idea that was, what a thoughtful gesture. Never miss a page and never use it for another book 😉
Best Price iRecommend: Buy Tantra from
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