Book Review: The Secrets of the Dark

Part of South Asian Challenge 2013Debut Indian Writers Challenge 2013 and Reading Challenge 2013: First Reads


Legend. Secrets. A cult of protectors. A child of destiny.

What more does a fantasy fiction fan need?

Fantasy fiction seems to be taking some steady, sturdy steps in Indian literature these days. This year at The Tales Pensieve we have had the fantastic Luwan of Brida by Sarang Mahajan, Dark Pusuit – The Lost Shinmahs by Kevan Dinn is up on review and now this – Arka Chakrabarti‘s debut The Secrets of the Dark. Tales of what could have been and what somewhere could be – have always excited me immeasurably; that possibly is the reason why historical fiction and fantasy fiction feature high up on my favoured genres. So when of Srishti Publishers gave me the option of The Homing Pigeons and this one, the choice was swift and easy.

This one is presumably the first book of The Saga of Agni and introduces us to the legend that directs the way of life in the land of Gaya. Two prophecies are the answer to all traditions and atrocities in the land of the setting sun. One of which says that the destroyer born from the royal seed on the land of the setting sun shall bring the empires down. Owing to this no king is allowed to have a son in the land of the setting son and if one is born, he is taken away by the seven guardians of Gaya. But a king defies the guardians. He slips away his last son to a ship traveling to the land of the rising sun and prince Agni is torn away from his parents, to live unaware of his past and the legend he supposedly fulfills.

Destiny has a strange way of catching up and it does, with Agni too. He loses his fiance and his foster father in a tragic incident termed accident. He loses everything he ever could call family. Ravaged by vengeance and thrown into a whirlpool of dark and ambiguous events, Agni sets out to seek the truth – A truth that now lies veiled under layers and layers of beliefs. Somethin that has become a way of life for his fellow humans.

First things first, it is a supremely plotted story. Right from the detailed map of Gaya at the start of the book to the in depth chapter About the fictional land of Gaya at the end of the book Arka has thought it out well. The story moves at a good pace and is well narrated with the right quantity of surprises and revelations thrown. It is a good read but short of being amazing. Arka’s writing lacks that visual quality that is such an essential in the genre of fantasy fiction. When an author takes the writer into a completely fictional world, the reader relies completely on the writer’s words to imagine the world he/ she is in and Arka falls short there. The magic web he intends to spin isn’t strong enough. Hope to see the young author improvise and spin better in the next one. And also hope Srishti next time gets a better cover done. This one disappointed.

A decent debut, worth a read once for the creativity and plotting thought that has gone into it.

Happy Reading.

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