“You try my patience severely, sage”, said Shambara to Narada, and managed to express my feelings entirely. These (feelings) were not just restricted to Narada, but to pretty much every character in the book! But let’s step back a bit first.
As a subject, this one holds a lot of promise, because Kama has (arguably) a very muted presence in Hindu mythology, except probably the ‘burning man’ episode when he used his arrows on Shiva. So a book which could bring out details of his exciting life – since he was after all the God of Love and Desire – does have the potential to be quite good. While the story in itself stays true to mythology, what put me off the book is the narration.
For one, I felt there were just too many words! It reminded me of Ashok Banker’s prose. (probably a couple of notches lower) Descriptions of people, places, things and events last for pages when it could have been done in much fewer. While that is the author’s prerogative, what it does is reduce the narrative pace massively. I could read ‘across’ and that’s not a good thing for any book. The second factor was the inconsistency of the language. There was vivid and descriptive prose on one hand, and then, as though there was suddenly a different person writing, we would get “Did you know that I never found you sexier than I do now? You’re just too cute when you fight bad guys to the death”, or even better, “And if you’re horny, you certainly picked up the wrong time of the month for a booty call.” Yes, we have chick lit meeting Indian mythology! The author does have a sense of humour, I just wish she hadn’t resorted to these ‘Look, I’m cool’ stunts! Add to this, missing an ‘l’ in Kalpataru (though to be fair, I only came across a ‘factual’ mistake like this once) early in the book, and I had had enough!
I do not know whether the book was meant as a regular rendition of mythology, or one with a tonality that matched the current and popular version of the language. I think it tried to be both and used too many words while at it.
P.S. I rarely write negative reviews, and my apologies to the author. But Hindu mythology, to me, is a gift that contains some of the most fantastic stories ever written or imagined. I think, when an author gives the reader access to it, it should not be a task that is taken lightly. Unless, of course, your name is Amish Tripathi!