Book Review– Yakshini by Neil D’Silva

Title: Yakshini

Author: Neil D’ Silva

Publisher: Rupa

pp.252

They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but if you are a voracious reader and a book cover catches your eye, you simply want to devour the book in no time. And that’s exactly what happened with Yakshini. One look at the cover illustration and I couldn’t hold myself back.

Coming to the story, Yakshini is a steady mix of mythology and horror, one that Neil D’Silva is well known for. In Alakapuri (a land halfway to heaven inhabited by Yakshas and Yakshinis and ruled by Kubera), a Yakshini is punished by Kubera for seducing a Yaksha and trespassing into Devaloka. At the same time, a couple with 6 daughters on earth invoke the Yakshini for a son. As the time coincides, the disgraced Yakshini from Alakpuri is sent as the couple’s seventh daughter, Meenakshi, and cursed to inhabit the girl’s body until she dies.

Meenakshi is a chirpy little girl of 15 with celestial beauty and hence boys in her neighbourhood always find a chance to get close to her. Meenakshi is not aware of the Yakshini within her, though she often wonders about the strange noises she can hear within herself. It is only after two back to back instances when the neighborhood boys try to come a little too close, that the Yakshini unleashes her power and disables one and kills the other. Of course, no one knows who is behind the fate that befell the boys, but the village turns against Meenakshi and her family. At this juncture, Meenakshi’s parents get her married to a man much older than her, who had earlier come to seek the alliance of Meenakshi’s sister. He was so besotted with her beauty that he kept coming back and would not budge until her parents finally relented. Thus, Meenakshi moves to Mumbai, to her new home, to start a new life with Harikumar.

Time flies and Harikumar leaves Meenakshi under the guidance of his aunt, who educates her and turns her rustic ways around. Meanwhile, Harikumar is away in America, pining for Meenakshi on a vow to not touch her until she comes of age. And the time does arrive. Though Meenakshi is all excited on her 18th birthday to meet her man, yet by now she is aware of the Yakshini within who has slowly, yet steadily taken over her life. This Yakshini never allows a man to come close to Meenakshi. All along this has been helpful, but what when Harikumar comes home finally to make love to his wife after his long, self proclaimed exile? This constantly worries Meenakshi who is fighting an inner battle with the Yakshini. And here is where the suspense actually lies and I’m not going to reveal it and be a spoiler. Does Meenakshi enjoy long, marital bliss? What happens to the Yakshini within her? How is she released and is she released at all? Does Harikumar get to know his wife’s ‘little secret’? You get answers to all this and a lot more as you keep turning the pages of the book.

Yakshini is neatly divided into three sections and that keeps the story in place. It’s clear, it keeps you hooked and there’s never a dull moment. Just when you think whether all this could be real, the author throws in the mythological connection which is very convincing and with that information, you comfortably move ahead. There are elements of supernatural, horror, mystery, romance, lust, family drama– everything in the right measure to hold the attention of the reader. The ending is perfect and unexpected. I gibe it a 4.6/5. Do get your copy of the book if mythology and thriller are your taste. Believe me, you’ll be glad you added this one to your reading list.

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