Shadow In The Mirror
It all begins with a death. Nita, a pregnant woman falling from her balcony becomes the string that unravels the plot. Her death casts a shadow over many lives; her heartbroken father, her husband and Vinny, a young journalist, drawn in by the whiff of foul play and murder.
What follows are stories within stories, eras and worlds colliding with each other, leaving behind splintered relationships and mesmerizing slices of lives that appear to be drawn together and driven apart by the whimsical threads of destiny.
As events cast their shadows ahead to link the stories of Vinny, Kavita, Roma, Krish and Nita in an unrelenting knot, a journey starts to uncover the truth. What is the secret that links Nita’s death to the other characters? Will Vinny be able to unravel the mystery of Nita’s death?
From intimate diary entries and letters, to bantering over a meal and sharing memories while spring cleaning, this novel de-familiarizes the ordinary, presenting a kaleidoscope of our own pasts, broken edges and pulsating hearts.
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This book has the curious distinction of arriving at my hands both as a digital copy and as a paperback. The digital copy came as part of a review tour, and a paperback copy came from a friend who had attended the book launch. I took this as a testament to how much the readers loved the book and its style. It came highly recommended and naturally I was intrigued.
The cover image is stunning and the soothing blue tones and the mysterious face with a huge Bindi captured my attention immediately. The summary was short, though it seemed like a listing of important characters in the book (not the style I could relate with) and the last line , especially the last ten words, made sure I opened the book as soon as I got a chance to read it.
As far as 'beginnings' go, this book had the right tone - it began with the death of a pregnant woman, Nita, who falls from the balcony of a house. Other characters are introduced quickly, each person contributing, in some way, to the narrative in their own style. The plot of this book is about understanding the secrets behind the supposed suicide, and in certain places, though few parts are a bit predictable, the book cinches the show in the ending, completely. The plot and its development are what make the book interesting, and despite the handling of an age-old concept, keep it a completely entertaining page turner.
The book's strength is in its narrative. Those who do not like the descriptive style of narrative, those detailed explanations that bring the scene alive in the eyes of the reader, would not be able to enjoy the book much. But to someone who likes English narratives of the likes of Christie, this was a major positive side of the book and one of the reasons why I kept turning the pages. The importance given to the descriptions about the characters makes the book slower but more interesting in my eyes. The reader must get used to reading the names of each character that play a role in the overall story, and understand the significance and their backstory to be able to grasp the plot better. The placement of these backstories can be made a bit better, and they are almost the single main contributor for the uneven pace of the narrative. But they gave the much needed details and left a longer lasting impression.
At face value, the story of Nita's death that seems to be a suicide affects her spouse and immediate family. But as the story digs deeper, the bubble of loss and suspicion covers a larger set of people, with each person's entry into the transparent dome demanding that the reader keep all of them in focus to fully grasp the enormity of the plot. For a character who dies early on, Nita remains etched in my mind through the eyes of other people, as a realistic character, enthralling in life as well as death, giving more material for consideration with every new view that opens up about her.
There are plot holes, a few I could mention. And some characters seemed mere additions for diverting the focus of the reader in points during the story when the narrative came close to revealing the main twist. All the characters, though described in detail, do not have equally important roles to play, and this might be a deal breaker for today's fast paced readers. (They each play some role. Just not the strong defined roles we would expect them to play). The climax did leave me wanting more - be it in the terms of a proper closure or some glaring loose ends. It should have been thought out better, but that again, is not a total letdown.
Menon's narrative is twice as attractive in the way it captures the emotions of even the secondary characters perfectly, often giving the reader insights into their persona. Despite the descriptive nature, a lot is left to the understanding of the reader that is based on the perception they have towards the story. This can either be a hit or miss, and it solely depends on the readers' grasp of the story. Be it the dead woman, or the bereaved husband or the father, or the numerous other characters, even those who are seemingly unrelated to the main plot have a small role to play in the overall story. The main USP of the novel is keeping the suspense alive till the last few pages. The book is a treat for fans of this genre.
WHAT I LIKED:
- The words are so potent, so descriptive and captivating.
- The narrative is reminiscent of the English novels of the ones from few decades ago, long winded but rich in text
- The book keeps the interest alive by the pure force of content, and fits the thriller genre very well
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
- The descriptions are a bit on the longer side, often catching one off guard
- The subplots can take the focus away from the main narrative if you aren't paying attention!
- The book's pace is uneven, and it might give the readers a break in between
Loved this book, mainly for the elegant and captivating narrative.
About the Author
Deepti Menon has always believed in the power of the pen. Having done her post graduation in English Literature and her B.Ed. in English, she had the option of teaching and writing, and did both with great enjoyment. She started writing at the age of ten, long before she acquired a Diploma in Journalism. She also had the advantage of being an Army kid, and later an Army wife, and loved the idea of travelling around India, meeting new people and acquiring new skills. She firmly believes that much of her personality was honed during those travels.
In 2002, her light hearted book, ‘Arms and the Woman’, depicting life as seen through the eyes of an Army wife, was published by Rupa Publishers, Delhi. This was written mainly to reveal the warmth and camaraderie within the great institution. She is now working on her second book that is a work of fiction, and not- to-be divulged yet!