The Revenge of Kaivalya- A Book Club Review

The Revenge of Kaivalya by Sumana Khan


Sometimes, even if you hate horror, the book exerts such a compulsion that you cannot help but just read it. Despite of my fear of the creeping shadows and creaking doors, I managed to finish this book. Oh, I was afraid. I stopped reading the book at nighttime, but in the end, it was an interesting journey.

Deep within the womb-like forests of the Western Ghats, an entity manifests itself at the malevolent moment when the ocean rises to devour hundreds of thousands. Kencha, an unwitting witness to Its birth, is soon found dead – his body branded with a strange message written in HaLegannada, an ancient version of modern Kannada. Even as Dhruv Kaveriappa, Chief Conservator of Forests – Hassan division investigates Kencha’s death, he senses an unseen danger in the forests of Kukke, Bisle and Sakleshpura. Animals drop dead; plants wither away and just as he feared, the forest claims its first victim. Shivaranjini, on vacation in Sakleshpura, suffers a devastating tonic-clonic seizure moments after she returns from a visit to the forest. Soon, she begins to exhibit a bizarre personality disorder. Perhaps there is an outbreak of an unknown rabies-like disease? Or, as ridiculous as it seems, could it be a case of tantric witchcraft? 
The truth unfolds in a dizzying maelstrom of events – a truth far too terrifying to comprehend.
In one sentence, it’s a book about many people; but it’s the story of a ages old spirit called Kaivalya who want to extract revenge for something. I know that story sounds cliche, but it’s a story which enthralls one in its web by its beautiful language.
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What I liked

1) Language: The book uses a lyrical prose which is hypnotising enough to initiate the horror in the readers. I have read a few horror books, but not all affected me the same way as this. Probably because it was a usual story with an amazing language, it did make a huge difference on the reading. I had to stop reading the book during night to save myself from the thrall of words.

2) Powerful Women: Though the book had many male characters, it’s the women who carried the story on their shoulder. Be it Tara, Shakti, or Priyadarshini, each female character is shown in her own might and that too without losing their feminism.

3) Treatment of the story: This should not be a head here, but any story which has the capability to leave one sleepless should get laurels for its treatment of the story. And this books deserve these laurels in spades.
What I disliked
Too many characters: I understand that it was the requirement of the horror genre and the story, but there were just too many characters involved. I had to turn back and see who they were talking about at times. But this could be because of my bad memory for names as well.
Overall Opinion
If anybody can stomach horror, this book deserves a chance. I was afraid of the book, but yet it was thoroughly enjoyable. There wasn’t even one section which bored me.
Meet the author
The Author’s Thoughts
In the early stages of my manuscript, I knew the title of my novel had to be the name of the principal character. And it could not be just any name. It had to fit into the storyline – from a time perspective, as well as setting the atmosphere. It had to sound ancient and also define the character. Tall order!
As I read up on the history of Vijayanagara, I hoped to come across a good, strong name…but history, normally, is about men and their wars and conquests. I hoped to select a name from our puranas. But nothing clicked. What about our stotras? Maybe the lalitha sahasranama? Or ashtalakshmi stotra? One evening I sat mulling on ‘Kausalya’…thanks to the most famous line ‘Kausalya supraja Rama purva sandhya pravarthathe’ from the Suprabhata 🙂 I went to bed with that line in my head.
The next morning, somehow, ‘Kausalya’ had transformed to ‘Kaivalya’. I did not remember coming across the name in any of my previous research. Curious, I looked up what ‘Kaivalya’ stood for. And was fascinated.   Read More ……..
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