Book Review | Hunted By The Sky | By Tanaz Bhathena
Before we begin the review, let me just say how much joy this book gave me by simply being truly Indian, or desi as you would call it, from the heart. It just made everything extra sweet and if you say, I am biased then I won’t even argue. I have read YA fantasies with French premise and often wondered how come no one ever created something like this with an Indian premise. We live in a country with forts, palaces and tombs. Such rich history and culture. And here is an author who does exactly that. Mixes all that magic into a Swapnalok.
Narrative and Plot
The story is told from different point of views, mainly Gul and Cavas. Their voices are young and vibrant as it should be in their age. It gives the story some kind of innocence, and yet, the voice evolves as the story progresses and the characters learn more about themselves and their situations.
Swapnalok clearly draws its inspiration from Vedic history and Persian culture. It is a blend of these magnificent cultures into a fictional form.
The intricate plot is evenly paced with enough action and twists to make you want the paves more. It is one of those books , where you are anxious about the number of pages left and the deep trouble your protagonists have gotten themselves into. In the end, it leaves you with enough curiosity to wait for the final book in this duology.
Characters and Conflicts
On the surface, Hunted by the Sky is your typical “chosen one” YA fantasy with prophecies and tyrants. But there’s more to it than what it seems as you read. Gul starts as the rebel who has nothing but revenge in her mind. She is reckless and thoughtless about her actions and the effect it might have on others. But she is willing to learn from her mistakes and comes a full circle when she tries to see the bigger picture. Eventually she understands, that being the chosen one is just the tip of the iceberg. What follows after is a mammoth task, pun intended.
Your actions are not just yours but it affects everyone who cares about you and are willing to protect you. Cavas is another side of the coin. He wants to stay invisible and blend with the crowd right from the first scene that we see him. However, destiny has something else stored for him and it takes a long time for him to accept it.
Backed up by the powerful supporting characters and enigmatic antagonists, this is a wholesome fantasy read. The Gulabi gang influence is clearly visible in Juhi and her sisterhood. As an Indian, it is again a thrilling moment.
Personally, I am a novice when it comes to reading YA fantasy. But to me, Hunted By the Sky is a milestone which will surely inspire a new genre of desi fantasy. Something which can be accessed globally . And I am not talking about mythological fiction. This is fantasy that vividly draws its imagination from real history. If you’re a desi reader, pick this one up and read it with an open mind. If you’re not, you can get yourself immersed in this magical dream world – Swapnalok.
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