Shalini Srinivasan’s new novel Vanamala and the Cephalopod -review

Little thieving sun

These are the concluding words of Shalini Srinivasan’s new novel Vanamala and the Cephalopod –the words that very well describes her writing. Late Satyajit Roy once remarked about a book that it’s un-put-down-able, which means if you start with it, you have to finish it. The same thing can best describe this absorbing fantasy.

Vanamala is a little girl, who being disgusted with the little sister put up a notice in a local shop to sell her sister! She never imagined that she’ll have response to her advertisement. But unexpected did happened! She found a taker!

Who might it be? Whom did she suspected, or some others? Will she ever be able to find her sister? Where she had to go? Was it the land or the sea?  If it was the sea, then how she had managed to survive under? If it was the land, then how she was provided with clues? Did she found anybody else other than her little sister? What was the ultimate fate?

You’ll love this fascinating tale of fantasy-absolutely love it. The writer has written for Amar Chitra Katha and she has natural flair for storytelling. With the skill of master craftsmen, she had narrated an absorbing story. The characterization of Lettuce Grower and Girish are unique. Human emotions are imparted in a classic way to the non human characters.

With words she had painted a picture. Example of such a narrative is

“When the Lettuce Grower got near, the octopus swung open the doors silently and the tentacles started to wriggle around vaguely, feeling for them. Varnamala brushed past the tentacles as fast as she could.

Behind her, Girish was mumbling’ -wait. Wait, what if the door closes before I’m through?”

The mention of through which opens the door of another (in reality, two other worlds) reminds us of one of the legendary works of fantasy (no marks for guessing). The book also has a message embedded-we, the humans, who think we are mightiest are not actually so after all. The young reader will love to adore the nature around-if he finds this book. Although recommended for young readers ,it will be suitable for young adults ,too.

Illustrations by Sebin Simon are terrific and the production quality of Duckbills Books is truly international for this paperback.

Page count-186, price-INR 225

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