‘Her quarry was not too far ahead of her. Devi could smell her now, the vile stench she had caught only a whiff of before. (The demon’s) entire body was covered in cerulean blue scales, the colour of the deepest part of the sky.’ – so reads the back cover. Well, this, along with the title was what prompted me to pick up The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara by S.V.Sujatha.
Before I share my views on this book, I’d like to give the readers a brief insight into Chottanikkara Devi Temple which has a great bearing on the story.
Chottanikkara Devi Temple is a famous temple located in Chottanikkara, Kochi of Kerala in India. The presiding deity of the temple is Mother Goddess Shakthi Devi or Rajarajeshwari also known as Sree Bhagavathi. Devi Maha Lakshmi is also supposed to be residing in Chottanikkara along with Lord Vishnu. Chottanikkara Devi is worshipped at the temple, in three different forms: as Maha Saraswati (mother of knowledge) in the morning, draped in white; Maha Lakshmi (mother of wealth) at noon, draped in crimson; and as Sree Durga (mother of power) in the evening, decked in blue.
Goddess ‘Keezhkkaavu devi’ ‘of the Keezhkkaavu temple here is believed to be ‘Bhadrakali’ (Maha Kali.) She is a form of Mother Kali, believed to be born from the third eye of Lord Shiva, to kill the demon king ‘Daruka’. Guruthi pooja is a ritual done here to invoke Goddess Mahakali. Belief has it that Keezhkkaavu Kali is bestowed with powers to heal the mentally ill. Hence people from far and near flock the temple here to get their kith and kin cured of ailments of the mind.
There are a number of legends associated with the temple and its presiding deity. You can check them out here.
Ask me to describe it in one word and my answer will be, “Riveting!” The skill with which the author takes us on a journey gory and horrifying without making us retch is something I must commend. A mythological thriller, The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara has Devi as its protagonist. She is very much human, displaying all the emotions associated with ordinary human beings, yet she is special. She is a fearless warrior who rides a lion as one would a horse yet, she cares for her father as would a daughter soft and loving. She draws blood on her sword with the ease of one with a heart of stone, but the thought of losing her aged father is enough to send chills down her spine and draw tears from her eyes. Her birth is a mystery and so is the source of her supernatural powers. Young yet skilled, she is looked upon as a savior by the villagers. Her deeds, her dedication and her love for her fellow human beings earn her the title of ‘Amma’ (Mother).
Beautifully crafted, the story takes us on a journey of Devi’s heroics. The ease, the skill with which she hunts down demons makes one believe that she is invincible. Yet, is it so? Is there something or some force that has the ability to make her feel vulnerable? Does she find her match in any of the creatures she hunts down? Well, to know that one should definitely read the book.
The style of narration has the power to keep one hooked to the book and the language is anything but tough. It is crisp and lucid. Devoid of jargon, ill-fitting words and phrases, the read is smooth and easy. The imagery is vivid and beautiful. One can actually see the Pala bloom before one’s eyes and inhale the sweet smell of the flowers. It feels heady and intoxicating. So when an incident powerful enough to jolt the sleepy village of Chottanikara from its slumber and grip it in a type of fear not felt till then happens, one cannot but feel a sense of urgency and confusion. Such is the power of the language the author has used to create the background for the entry of the one that will be taking the center stage along with the demon hunter.
Steeped in myriad shades of human emotions both pure and dark, the story has its fair measure of twists and turns. Yes, there are some things that are easily predictable, but there are others that are unpredictable and are revealed only towards the fag end of the story.
The attributes of both the primary and secondary characters are well- developed with their virtues and vices/weaknesses reflecting in their actions and reactions which are easily relatable. One can actually feel their presence in flesh and blood in the pages of the book. The sensuality of the seductress in the Pala grove, the lust filled longing of Kunjukuttan for her, the pain of loss suffered by Kannappa, the love and worry experienced by Devi for her father, the maturity exhibited by Miricha well beyond her age all find expression here and one cannot find anything amiss in the way they come across.
A simple story told in an engrossing style, packed with suspense and action, this one is sure to enthrall lovers of mythological fiction, fantasy and thrillers alike. I’d say this sure is a brilliant piece of writing, one that has all the potentials of becoming a best-seller.
Reviewed by: Geeta Nair
Blogger, book reviewer and bibliophile, Geeta Nair is a native of Manjeri in Kerala. She was born in Kanpur and moved to Kerala later. Writing is her passion and reading her habit. A retired banker, Geeta is presently enjoying life living her dreams and taking care of her little grandson a bundle of abundant energy.
Author(s): S V Sujatha
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Release: July 2017
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