Mythological fiction is a hugely popular genre in India. Some names are big, and some are making their mark even with their first steps into it. Kevin Missal belongs to the later category. And so, when he came out with his next book, Narasimha, I definitely had to read it.
Narasimha is an avatar of Vishnu. Half lion, half man, Narasimha possess all the characteristics of both species. But, Kevin Missal‘s Narasimha has portrayed the titular character as one caught between the ferociousness of its animal self, and its human consciousness. Somewhere between the two exists a worn and tired soul.
The avatars of Vishnu are well heard off in Hindu households and the fourth avatar of Narasimha is a controversial one. Narasimha is not as endearing as the butter thieving Krishna, nor as solemn as Rama. This avatar of Vishnu has one purpose, and the myth is all gore. By taking a tale that we grew up with and making it his own Kevin Missal has got a winner on his hands.
Being the angriest of all of Vishnu’s avatars, Narasimha has always been a vicious being for me. However, in Kevin Missal‘s book, Nara is a being who tries to leave the violence, but he is compelled to resort to it when there is no other way. The basic storyline is the same, with Prahlad, Hiranyakashyap and Narasimha. But this book has given us an in-depth plot with reasons for war and the quest for justice.
The writing is good and very contemporary. Narasimha is a fictional account, a product of Kevin Missal‘s imagination and understanding. Therefore if you are looking to reading about the whys and whatfors of the Narasimha avatar of Vishnu, then this is not the book for you. Narasimha is enjoyable in its own vein. The characters, well written and excellently crafted, are life-like. Kevin Missal has also dealt with certain topics interestingly. I am not getting into it, but if you read the book, you will be pleasantly surprised. The other great thing I loved about this book was the fact that female characters were given due justice. They were independent and self-sufficient, in thought and action. Again, given the genre, this came as a pleasant surprise.
Narasimha is the first book of a trilogy. I would say this book, at times, felt a bit lengthy. Of course, there were those portions of the book I thought went flying in pace. It felt a little tiresome to read the slower pages after the fast ones. I must note that this is an effect when one has to read a sequence of action and then read about some political going-ons.
Having read Narasimha, I shall be looking forward to reading the second instalment in the trilogy. And then perhaps write a better review of both books together. For now, this is the best without giving away too much.
Narasimha is a definite recommendation for lovers of contemporary myhtological fiction. You will not be disappointed.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars