Book Review: The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Having read The Palace of Illusions by Chita Divakaruni, it was a no-brainer to pick up this book! Read on to know my thoughts on this must read book!

About the Book:

The Forest of Enchantments

The Ramayana, one of the world’s greatest epics, is also a tragic love story. In this brilliant retelling, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni places Sita at the centre of the novel: this is Sita’s version.

The Forest of Enchantments is also a very human story of some of the other women in the epic, often misunderstood and relegated to the margins: Kaikeyi, Surpanakha, Mandodari. A powerful comment on duty, betrayal, infidelity and honour, it is also about women’s struggle to retain autonomy in a world that privileges men, as Chitra transforms an ancient story into a gripping, contemporary battle of wills.

While the Ramayana resonates even today, she makes it more relevant than ever, in the underlying questions in the novel: How should women be treated by their loved ones? What are their rights in a relationship? When does a woman need to stand up and say, ‘Enough!’

My Thoughts:

A scintillating read, The Forest of Enchantments will take the reader on a journey with Sita as the protagonist. The story follows her from childhood to adulthood and highlights the Ramayana from her point of view.

We are introduced to Ram, Lakshman and even Raavan as they are seen by Sita. The entire story focuses on her journey and what she felt through it. It is a wonderful take on the Ramayana and strongly brings out the feelings and opinions of the women in the story.

The author brings out the contrast in characters and ensures that the reader is interested in reading the book. There is not even one moment when the reader will wonder why they are reading the book. Even though we might have already read the Ramayana, Sita’s perspective is something none of us stop to think about. It is a re-telling like no other, exploring the views of the women in the story and introducing the reader to them.

The strength of the women, the resolve and their actions shape the course of the story and give us a different view of the same events we are familiar with. Chitra succeeds in humanizing all the characters and making them more relatable. We are forced to think about their points of view, their circumstances and give them the benefit of doubt. The author brings enough doubt to the idea of good and bad, focussing on the grey areas and the fact that there could be more to how we perceive things.

This is perhaps one of the best written books and I can promise that the readers will be left spell bound!

Book Blast: We Call It Monster by Lachlan Walter

About the Book:

 

Title: We Call It Monster
Author: Lachlan Walter
Genre: Giant Monster/Kaiju Fiction, Speculative Fiction
Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: Severed Press Publication
Date: 13th February, 2019

Language: English
ISBN-10: 1925840522
ISBN-13: 978-1925840520

 

 

One ordinary day, an enormous creature dragged itself out of the ocean and laid waste to a city. In the months and years that followed, more and more creatures appeared until not a single country remained untouched. At first, people tried to fight them. In the end, all they could do was try and stay alive.

We Call It Monster is a story of forces beyond our control, and of immense and impossible creatures that make plain how small we really are. It is the story of our fight for survival and our discovery of that which truly matters: community and compassion, love and family, hope and faith.

***

A story-cycle/novel-in-stories, We Call It Monster is written in a grounded and realistic way, with each chapter unfolding from the perspective of a different character, and detailing his or her first-hand experience of the conflict between humans and monsters.

About the Author:

Lachlan Walter is a writer, science-fiction critic and nursery-hand (the garden kind, not the baby kind), and is the author of two books: the deeply Australian post-apocalyptic tale The Rain Never Came, and the giant-monster story-cycle We Call It Monster. He also writes science fiction criticism for Aurealis magazine and reviews for the independent ‘weird music’ website Cyclic Defrost, his short fiction can be found floating around online, and he has completed a PhD that critically and creatively explored the relationship between Australian post-apocalyptic fiction and Australian notions of national identity.

He loves all things music-related, the Australian environment, overlooked genres and playing in the garden. He hopes that you’re having a nice day.

LINKS

www.lachlanwalter.com

www.severedpress.com

SOCIAL MEDIA

www.facebook.com/LachWalter79

www.twitter.com/lachwalter79

CONTACTS

contact@lachlanwalter.com

info@severedpress.com

Excerpt from the Book:

The old man shuffled out to the balcony, dusted off an outdoor chair and then made himself comfortable. The sky was a shade of blue that painters only dream about; it was a beautiful sight. The old man drank it in, leaning back in his chair. He sipped at his coffee and smoked a cigarette. He was happy to wait as long as was necessary – he had all the time in the world and he wasn’t going anywhere.

The monster finally appeared, a blurry smudge in the distance.

Slowly, but not as slowly as he would have thought, it grew both closer and more distinct. The old man laughed out loud; it looked like nothing more than a child’s drawing of something that might have been a lobster or might have been a spider or might have been both, propped up on flagpole-like legs that supported a wetly-shining carapace, a beaked head, and a tail as long as a bus.

It was enormous and ridiculous in equal measure. The old man was surprised to find that it failed to frighten him.

It drew closer to the city. It stopped suddenly and bit a great chunk out of a stately old tree lining a boulevard. Chewing slowly and methodically, it worked its way through the mass of wood and foliage before throwing its head back and opening its mouth wide. Despite his deafness, the old man felt the monster’s keening in his bones and in the pit of his stomach.

He pulled his hearing aid from his pocket, turned it on then slipped it in place.

The beast’s cry was low and mournful, more a melancholy bellow than a ferocious roar. Thankfully, the klaxon-blare of the evacuation alarms had stopped. The monster cried out again and it shook the old man, both literally and metaphorically. The beast shifted its legs, presumably adjusting its weight, and destroyed an office building in the process.

Almost comically, it looked down at the destruction it had wrought and seemed to shake its head.

It looked back up and cried out a third time, and then started walking again. It seemed to meet the old man’s eye. Without breaking its gaze, the old man took another sip of coffee before lighting another cigarette.

Slowly-slowly-slowly, the monster drew closer. You could almost see a smile on the old man’s face.