Number of pages: 195
Price: Rs. 335
Tantra by Adi is not a book I would have typically picked off a shelf in a bookstore. That it came from Blogadda was a major point of consideration. It was a different book, a welcome change from the usual clichés. Midway into the book and I had forgotten all my reservations. Adi had me intrigued with his words. The teaser on the back cover also had a little something to do with it.
Tantra’s protagonist is a leather-wearing, no-nonsense Anu, who as a professional guardian is known for killing the most dangerous vampires in New York City. She makes her way to Delhi, seeking vengeance for the death of a loved one. But India, she realizes, is a whole different ball-game. She has to be wary not so much of the vampires wandering in the city but the nice boys her well-meaning aunt lines up for her to marry. However, Anu has more important things on her mind. Like saving little children from getting kidnapped and saving Delhi, by slaying one vampire at a time. Until she discovers, much to her bewilderment, that her fellow operatives have arrived at a truce with them vampires.
Anu finds a friend in Amit, a fellow operative, who helps her navigate her way in the city.
Over the course of her stay, she finds herself confronting forces older, darker and more complex than anything she has ever tackled before. She is excited, overwhelmed and clueless, all at the same time. And increasingly she finds herself getting restless until she can resolve it. And for that, she must slay her own personal demons. Her stash of weapons can only take her so far. For the rest, she has to delve deep into her mind, for clarity, perspective and mental strength.
Tantra for most part is an easy read. It is a refreshing and entertaining plot, set in a familiar place, based in contemporary India, with well-etched out characters and lots of intrigue. Her superpowers aside, Anu is the average hot-headed, stubborn and fiercely-independent individual, plagued by the usual angst, insecurities and anxieties, beneath a tough exterior. Her superpowers and determination set her apart. Her relationship with her cousin, Smiti, reveals just how much we need our gal-pals to remain sane and afloat. Whom else would we discuss wardrobe woes and guy issues with!
Reading about Amit makes me smile. He is charming, level-headed and witty. I think Adi gave him the best lines in the book. Anu’s aunt is a fixture that we are all too familiar with, in our lives. The concern, the affection and the ensuing drama is endearing.
The language is simple and engaging. Adi chooses his words well. And he excels at narrating conversations. The humor, the quick repartee and the ease with which it flows, were the high points of this book for me. Adi also cleverly, sneakily inserts random details in his sentences, which on a quick reading, are easy to gloss over. And then you regret skipping them and return to those bits for a reread.
The story of Anu’s spiritual quest will leave you reeling with a few questions of your own. If prodded sufficiently, how far can one push one’s self? Whom to trust and how much? Do we really who is an ally and who, a foe? How many earthly ties ensnare us and why?
What irked me slightly is how smoothly Anu is successful in hiding her superpowers from her aunt. That bit of the novel seemed a little-too perfect in my scheme of things. Adi also makes repeated references to how Anu had to leave behind so many of her weapons in the US to escape detection by the airport security. Unnecessary emphasis and too often, I felt.
But Adi deftly combines intrigue, mysticism and weaponry to make Tantra an action-packed thriller. You get awed at the strength of human will. Some of Adi’s descriptions will send a chill creeping down your spine, while some others will leave you in smiles. There are fight sequences, a few shades of a budding romance, some tantric mumbo-jumbo and lots of suspense, making it apt for a Bollywood film.
Savor Tantra on a lazy weekend at home. Revisit the romance of Delhi by the night, marvel at Anu’s superpowers as she fights with her life to save the city and prepare to get mesmerized by the power of the mystic forces.
Learn more about Tantra.