Monday, 27 November 2017

The Liar's Weave by Tashan Mehta: a review

It has been a day that I've finished this book and if you're thinking why am I so late in writing this review then you must know that I am still looking at this book and taking it all in. Would you believe that The Liar’s Weave is Tashan Mehta’s debut book? This hardback book by Juggernaut ticks all the right boxes. From the feel of the book to the content of the book. Let's not talk about the cover of it because if I start, I'll not end anytime soon. So, what's so special about the book? Here's the book blurb for you.

According to the book blurb- Born into an alternate history of our world where birth charts are real and one's life is mapped out in the stars, Zahan Merchant has a unique problem: he is born without a future. This cosmic mistake gives him an unusual power: the ability to change reality with his lies. But there is a catch, of course. How like the Gods to build a catch. Zahan’s older brother Sorab becomes the only one to share his secret, and help him keep it, while from afar the Greatest Astrologer That Ever Lived (the Second), Narayan Tarachand, continues to quietly ponder the mystery of the child whose birth chart he couldn't decipher. But when Zahan's adventures with his best friend Porthos- who had his own secret- bring them to the attention of the hatadaiva, the ill-fated who must bear the brunt of fate’s cruelties, his power becomes more dangerous to him and those he loves. From a Parsi colony in early-twentieth-century Bombay to the urban hinterland of Vidroha, Forest of outcasts, Tashan Mehta’s debut novel transports the reader to an India both familiar and strange, where the consequences of magic on reality can be wonderous yet heartbreaking.

Oh God! Wait. Am I to say this after reading this book? The surreal mixture of reality and 'reality’ makes this book a must read. When you start off with the book, you feel an instant connect with the characters. Zahan and Sorab Merchant. The brotherhood that they both share is something that can surely be termed as #siblinggoals for the GenY. I got reminded of my own sibling while reading about them. Zahan changes reality with his lies and both the brothers learn about the Notebook of Lies together.

The way the lies have been woven and written is such that you count yourself as a member of the journey both the brothers make towards learning the world before, after and within the lies. Samit Basu, in his review, writes that the book is “intricate but wild, fragile but bloody” and indeed it is so. The introduction of Porthos and every scene in the book is a visual treat and you can't help yourself but visualize every single moment clearly. It feels as if you're watching a movie and not reading a book.

The Greatest Astrologer That Ever Lived (the Second) and his companions of the in-betweens give us a peep into the lives of astrologers who write what the stars have to say. This 300 above page book at places looks chaos. Some characters seem out of place and unnatural. Some scenes unnerving. But aren't these also the traits to make a great fantasy fiction book? The main agenda of the book : the ever going battle of good against evil is shown in a very sophisticated way. Neither too loudly, not too softly.

Throughout your read, you may be rooting for one person at one time and the other person the next but what will never leave your mind is your connection with Zahan Merchant. There's a mention of hatadaiva in the book. The ill fated. A pun to societal norms? I'll leave for you to ponder on and decide on that. Keeping the intent and the essence of the book in mind, a lot of things worked for me. The characters stay with you even after you finish. And the twists! The twists, unexpected, had me at their mention. Having said that, a lot of things didn't work for me either.

One thing that I, as a reader felt about the book and that is the fact that the end seems abrupt. Though beautifully written, when you're in the flow and reading the book and reach the end, you would find it fitting and indeed it is so. But, when you sit and think about the book, you might feel that the ending deserved at least a prelude. Barring that and the chaos of the book, this would be a 4.5 out of 5 for me.