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Paloma Bhattacharjee

By Anusha Subramaniam
Year 2016, pp. 190, Rs. 225.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

Just as earthly time stops when the characters unfurl their journey across the magical land of Catriona, so does the reader’s sense of time as one rapidly navigates one’s way through the silvery forest of ivory trees, mysterious caves with mythical gods, through lakes containing lotus embedded with emeralds and through a landscape lighting up with a multitude of characters. It’s a place ‘where one grows faster and lives longer’. It’s a place where earthy metaphors are conjured but the limits of their earthy meanings are challenges. The story centers around two young women Sara and Cristina, two young women. Their inter-world journey unfolds itself like pieces of a puzzle being slowly put together, one at a time. It’s an adventure across rough situations, taming fiery wolves and answering riddles to an old tree. It’s also an adventure across blowing revelations, they learn that their mothers who they thought were dead were still held captive by a malicious witch, functioning under the demonic loki, they also find out secrets about the fathers they had never seen. Thereon emerges the thrust of the story, the idea of defeating, of the good over evil, of taking the reins from the cruel queen who had held their mothers’ captive along with the entire land of Catriona. But as with any gripping storytelling, the essence of it doesn’t lie on this basic plot, but on how it plays itself out. In this case, the author offers an assortment of creative imaginings and enjoyably vivid encounters through which the characters and the readers proceed. Around the two central characters are a multitude of many exciting ones which places the narrative in a network of relations, not just humans or witches and wizards as we imagine them. There are characters of earthy mythologies being reinvented here in new ways; new twists in the old plots. Cartiona is the land where the young mind reinvents possibilities, which in the earthy world are circumscribed by complexities. Possibilities of conjuring up a house and a fertile field for the poor old women, of replenishing the stock of the farmers and filling one’s hunger with a flick of a magic stick. Moreover, of defeating an oppressive ruler with those who embody the ideal of goodness. Every depiction of fantasy tells us something about the mentalities or times that evoke such depictions. This ...

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