Mythology mixed with fiction is a tricky genre – you need to take care of a lot of things. You need to make sure your book is interesting enough with the right dallops of mythology, without going overboard. Also, in India, you need to make sure you don’t hurt or offend peoples’ sentiments.
When properly done, this genre is a treat to read. It all started with Dan Brown who literally revolutionarized this genre. He combined history and fiction and the results were fantastic.
Amongst Indian authors, I guess it was Ashwini Sanghi who first took up this genre, and he did wonders too. With “The Curse of Surya”, I was skeptical initially. Let us see whether I was proved right or wrong.
As the usual format for this genre goes, we have a lead character in the form of a journalist named Sangeeta Rao and an American called Alan Davies. You guessed it right – there IS that mandatory romance track between these two. But that is not the story, so let us leave that out.
The plot focuses on the long lost jewel called the “Shyamantaka” on which everybody is trying to gain their hands. A terrible mishap at the Krishna temple in Mathura leads to the two protagonists on the run being pursued by the police. Together, the two go places all over the northern and western India, getting closer to the Shyamantaka with each step. Will they succeed? Or will the police catch them? And what about the Shyamantaka? These form the basic plot.
Dev Prasad develops his characters well. As the beautiful reporter, Sangeeta Rao is our quintessential lead female protagonist who will instantly make place in your heart. As the charming male protagonist (Or antagonist?), Alan Davies is shown perfectly. There is always a shred of doubt whenever he comes on screen. And you are torn between the thought whether he is the good guy or the bad guy.
Alan Blanchard is apt. SP Nisha Sharma is superb. I personally loved her character.
The style of writing is really good. Dev Prasad keeps the language basic and simple, and focuses more on the content. Speaking of that, the content is rock solid. It is a work of exhaustive research, and that clearly shows. The plot keeps you engrossed till the end. The different locations, the various clues surrounding the mystery of Shyamantaka are very well done.
I especially loved the fact that Dev portrays a lot of his story in Gujarat and particularly Bet Dwarka. It is a different feeling to see places of your own state show such a good story.
On the negative side, I didn’t quite digest the submerged island sequence. For me, that was the only part that didn’t work. It seemed too far-fetched in an otherwise believable story. However, the believable climax made up for this minor glitch.
OVERALL, Dev Prasad’s “The Curse of Surya” is a lovely read, and a must for all mythological fiction fans. It is gripping, fast – paced, well written, has a solid plot, and most importantly, has characters which you will instantly take to.
A thumbs up for me!