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Title – Yakshini

Author – Neil D’Silva

Type – Fiction / Fantasy

Reading Prompt – #10 – Has an epilogue

Having read Maya’s New Husband (1 & 2), I’m familiar with Neil D’Silva’s works. I remember being aghast at the horror he spun in the books. That is in no way a critique of his style. On the contrary, it shows his prowess in this genre. 

The said novels had a touch of realism in them. Cannibalism and Aghori cult, though shocking, exist. However, Yakshini, as is evident from the title, has elements of high fantasy reminiscent of Chandrakanta & Nagin.  

The protagonist Meenakshi is a fifteen-year-old innocent girl living in a village in Maharashtra. Men lust after her beauty. But sooner or later, they end up either dead or horribly maimed. Who is Meenakshi? Does she have any special powers? The answers to these questions form the crux of the story.

D’Silva writes really well. He is a master of ‘Show Don’t Tell’. An example is Meenakshi’s beautiful relationship with nature.

Old leaves rustled and crackled under her feet, and the mushrooms were squished. Yet, nature bore no complaint, for this girl was one of them. A friend. In her presence, nature rejoiced. 

The transformation of Meenakshi into a hideous reptile is graphic. I recoiled in disgust as she killed the lusty men brutally. 

For the most part, I felt a sense of deja vu while reading this book. The mothers pleading with their young boys to hide from Meenakshi gave me Stree vibes. The backstory of Ratisundari with deformed Yaksha reminded me of Amish and his accursed Nagas in his Shiva & Ramchandra series. 

Yakshini is an enjoyable read, but towards the end of the story, the jump to 2010 felt abrupt. The character of Harikumar sounded unconvincing to me. The arc could have been better. Sadly, it had to be sacrificed at the altar of Meenakshi’s travails and her constant battles with the men-hating Yakshini. Nevertheless, the book has its moments. If you are looking for logic and rationale in a work of fiction, this novel is not for you. If fantasy is your favourite genre, you’ll enjoy Yakshini. Having grown up on a steady diet of films with icchadhari naagins, it was a trip down memory lane. 

I enjoyed the book and finished reading it over the weekend. But I preferred the horror of Maya’s New Husband over this mix of fantasy-horror-90s era nostalgia. 

I wish Neil all the best in his future endeavours, and may his literary success attain new heights. 

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