The Secret of the Mantle, by Harini Chakrapani
My eyes were first opened to the wealth of India when -as a child- I first read Kipling‘s The Jungle Book (1894) and Kim (1901). Kipling’s descriptions of India inspired me to read more and discovering fabulous writers such as Salman Rushdie (Midnight’s Children), Arundhati Roy (The God Of Small Things), Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland, Namesake), Rohinton Mistry (A Fine Balance) and Aravind Adiga (The White Tiger).
Probably one of the most outstanding traits of much Indian writing is its combination of humour and pathos; family, tradition, the inequities of the caste system and evergreen corruption are themes that run throughout the pages of many novels -both old and modern- where colourful and memorable characters lead exceptionally long and complex narrative.
Beside big names such those already mentioned, I love to discover new voices… young authors with great stories to tell. One of them being Harini Chakrapani and her debut novel The Secret Of the Mantle.
Death is upon earth. No one knows it better than the magical creature Ruchira. She hears about the devil—The White Death—who will bring forth destruction.
She is also aware of the prophecy that states the earth can only be saved from its imminent doom by a mysterious being called The White Death’s Equal.
After eons, she discovers that it is none other than Dr Chary. But, can an old man, who is dying, really take on this role? Will he be able to survive the journey from earth to the seething pits in its centre to fulfil the prophecy and save the planet?
This is a fantastic debut novel by this young author, another splendid example of Modern Indian literature. The author Harini Chakrapani delivers an engaging story that drags you deep down into a fantastic supernatural world filled with unusual characters and magical creatures with extraordinary powers.
If you crave for a different (original and well written) kind of fantasy, this might be the book for you. Highly recommended.