Book Review: Yakshini by Neil D Silva

Yakshini
Author: Neil D Silva
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 4.5/5

It is said that love has the mystical power to heal every scar on the soul. One of the most powerful emotions, love, conquers all fears and triumphs over hatred too. Based on this power of love, Neil D Silva’s new horror-thriller is something to look out for. Tracing the complicated journey of a young girl, Meenakshi, ‘Yakshini’ is partly mythological and partly horror in the genre. Exploring the theme of supernatural presence within the human body and highlighting the pathos one goes through when possessed by another power, ‘Yakshini’ is not only promising but also an engaging fantasy novella.

The story is set in the 90s. A young village girl, Meenakshi, finds it very difficult to come to grips with the fact that her body is shared by another malignant power. It takes several encounters and mishaps to make her realize that she is cursed (or so she thinks). At the sight of men, the Yakshini in her is aroused resulting in a sanguinary outcome. Troubled parents and embarrassed siblings try their best to shield Meenakshi but to no avail. The story describes the plethora of events that shape Meenakshi’s personality and transform her from a strong-willed young girl to a vulnerable woman.

In the course of the story, one realizes the power of love that aids Meenakshi in overcoming her fears. But then it is the same love that paves her way towards a bitter fate. Using creative word building, the author showcases his prowess in narration. Power-packed action, the slow build-up of suspense and brilliant characters- all help in making the story a complete pot-boiler. Deftly dividing the chapters under four different parts, the author uses metaphorical reference in the titles of these chapters as well. For instance, The Sapling is the part that describes Meenakshi’s childhood when her mind is quite fickle yet her heart is pure and free of any malice. The Blossom is about her youth when her beauty is at its peak, her mind is sure yet her heart develops malice easily. Similarly, the other two parts have an unspoken significance.

The author skillfully deepens his world of supernaturals using a magical veil to distinguish between the different parts. Reading between the lines, it wouldn’t take rocket science to figure out that ‘Yakshini’ is didactic. Using the characters of Shantaram and Harikumar, the author attempts to break the stereotypes that are associated with the patriarchal society. Unlike in a patriarchal society, Shantaram encourages the education of his daughters and is strictly against child marriage. Same way, Harikumar exemplifies the idea of a perfect husband. In fact, Harikumar’s character has been crafted in such an elusive way that the description can often urge the readers to raise their eyebrows. The book does have one drawback and that is the lack of ‘toe-curling’ elements. Being the one who has a phobia of the supernatural, I missed the narrative that could have given me the heebie-jeebies. But alas!

Overall, Yakshini is a book that has a lot to take in. It is worth every penny spent. The delightfully disturbing imagery sets the tone right and prepares to unpack the mystery before the readers in an interesting way.

Best wishes to the author!

Buying Link: Amazon

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