About the author:
Shobha is a Hong Kong-based author who writes thrillers, a little fantasy, some cryptic humour, an occasional haiku and oddball stories of no particular genre.
Cover and blurb:
The cover doesn’t give me any idea other than that there is magic involved, which the blurb further validates, with the premise of a vengeful evil spirit returning to destroy the source of the good energy. And three young people designated to stop that spirit.
Suppose the knowledge of all things good in the world were controlled by one power, and that power was in one thing. Wouldn’t you want to protect it with all you can? This story revolves around such a premise. That the good things of the world are influenced by the power of The Nine – a group of wise men who guard the Chintamani crystal, which holds that knowledge. Foreigners who have visited the country and done something noteworthy are associated with it, and the group of nine men are all well-known and respected people in their fields, albeit the fact that they are the guardians is a secret. So when the secret is out, and the group is compromised, the relaxed atmosphere turns to panic, and in this case, action.
Ages ago, a Kalingan warrior was killed by Asoka in a very bad way, and the warrior cursed the generations of Asoka to come before he breathed his last. The warrior’s spirit, after all these years, has finally acquired a body to possess. That man, now possessed by the Kalingan spirit, has limitless power and is out to avenge the injustice meted out to his ancestors (or considering the spirit is now in the body, himself). The man is Vayu, and the magical spirits conjured and trained to aid him in the cause are the Kala yogis. Vayu goes after two senior members of the Nine, and annihilates them looking for information regards the power, but by then, they along with another member, have already been replaced on the Nine by three youths. Enter the three chosen ones (The Trinity)… Tara who has the power to read thoughts, Zubin who has the power to heal and Akash who has the power of the spirit. They are chosen and brought by the nine to India, and to the Lomas Rishi caves. Meanwhile, the keeper of the knowledge has also been compromised, and he chooses a young girl Lise to carry the same back to India. Lise fails to heed a warning given by the Buddhist monk, Rinpoche and falls prey to Vayu, leaving the Trinity to not only battle for the safety of the Chintamani, but also to rescue her.
I’m happy that the book starts with the history, and the fallen Kalingan warrior’s curse, so as to set the setting. After that part, there is attention to detailing characters, while still keeping pace with the action around the Trinity. The book has the pace needed for a thriller to work, and it kept me hooked to it. The narration also had a little humor when it came to the part of letting the Trinity know, and I especially liked the dialogue back and forth between Dr. Bose and Tara. The detailing when it comes to the Kalingan spirit entering Vayu’s body was very raw, and I think the book called for that as well. I find depth to the characters too, though the Trinity are all adamant and hardheaded in their own way. In this book however, I liked the character of Vayu the most. He wants to avenge the Kalingans, but somewhere within him, his soul I felt was still his and not possessed. Even the character of Lise, who is naïve and falls to Vayu’s charms, is quite nice. The author shows a different much more mature side to Lise later on.
I think what lets this book down is the parts toward the end, which seem very hurried. I don’t mind a completely completed ending for a book in a series, but I feel it could have left a little more open than just a hint in a threat that there is more to come. Also, it’s not quite known how the secret got revealed at the start. How did exactly three of the nine come to be compromised and needing replacement. Character wise, I was wondering why Buddhist monks who advocated no negative feeling in one part of the book strike out with words against Lise, esp. when she’s carrying a precious secret that’s very essential to be kept safe. I felt that moment called for a calm approach than just a harsh reception.
Is this book worth reading? Yes it is. It has the making of a good thriller. I enjoyed it, and look forward for book two.
Title: The Curse of the Kalingan
Series: Nine – Book 1
Author: Shobha Nihalani
Genre: Historical Thriller
Publishers: Penguin Metro Reads
Price: INR 250
(Aug 29th, 2013)