Riddle of the Seventh Stone by Monideepa Sahu
I love the stories that take your imagination beyond the realism of the world, where everything is possible though not always without the requisite effort. Folk tales are my favorite for the same reason. Lately the new generation of Indian authors have been exploring this genre and with their own stroke of creativity.
Debut novel by Monideepa is one such story written for the younger people. These are some of the elements that comprise this Story: Old world Bangalore, Avenue Road, City Fort that not many people know of, the world of rodents and spiders complete with a parliament, a greedy land grabber called Shark, kids and their friends in the school and in the vermin world taking on Shark, a 100 year old spider and an old rat that magically become human kids. If it is Bangalore, even the spiders have their own WWW and v (Vermin)-mail. And to bind all these together, there is a riddle that comes as a poetic clue that has to be solved to defeat the Shark.
Book has elements from the past, present and some straight out of the imagination. Mix them together and there is no limit to what can be the done. Plot is completely from the world of imagination, though the problem being solved is realistic in a way. The description of the insect and the rodent world is amazing. At one place a girl’s description by the rat turned kid is absolutely hilarious: “Her face was perfectly round like a manhole cover. Dark, frizzy hair framed her face like strands of flowing algae. Her skin glowed like radioactive waste”. A description of the best party in Bangalore, at Shark’s office by all in the vermin world is another highly imaginative scene and somehow fits very well in the character of Bangalore and its nightlife. The spider turned human girl’s magical somersaults with her braids create some interesting scenes.
Overall it is a story that gives a message that irrespective of what and where you are, if you want anything, you can achieve it. In this case the rat, spider and children join hands to help their grandparents from the dirty plans of the Shark. The riddle part of the story is a bit week and focuses more on the emotional aspect of the one trying to solve it rather than the puzzle itself. I think this is where a little more logic and knowledge of the city could have been woven. There are a few parts where the author seems to be in educating mood, which is interesting if you do not know already but may get boring otherwise.
Illustrations keep the mood of the book alive and have been done in a simple yet convincing style. I have not read many books set in Bangalore, so for me this is the first out and out Bangalore book. I have to admit I feel nostalgic about the city after reading this.
Overall, it is an enjoyable quick read. Pick it up as a gift for the young ones around you.
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