Set centuries ago, this is but a small village located near the dense dark forests with a river flowing calmly by its sides. The serene setting is but a camouflage for the deep and scary dangers it holds within that venture out in the dead of the night seeking its kill. Protecting the hapless villagers from the clutches of the blood-thirsty demons is Devi, the she-warrior of the land. Her story is similar to most of the icons of Indian mythologies – found abandoned as a baby near the village, she grew up to be an exponential figure who would go to any length to protect her villagers whom she calls family.
The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara, which is rooted in the legend of the famed temple of today and its goddess, carefully meanders its way between a thriller and folklore. At times, it reminds us about the traditions and rituals of the temple, which like the author has put could have been a small structure in that pre-industrial era. And in others, it works purely as supernatural thriller where almost all the evils you would have heard about during your childhood days from the ‘Jala Pishach’ and ‘Brahmarakshas’ looming in the unknown.
During her night adventures that includes slaying the beasts and performing the dark arts of exorcism, the skilled young warrior is accompanied by a ferocious lion – Ugra. A lion in the jungles of Kerala?
When the book is strewn with references of the Malayalam land and some of it in its native tongue, it gives you a twinge of delight – the kind of happiness that ekes out a smile while flipping the pages. After the Meluha series from the towering Himalayas and The Rise of Sivagami (the book that precedes the Baahubali movie) from the Deccan plateau, it is but natural for us to look towards the lush Kerala that has a similar if not a bigger repertoire of tales. And S.V. Sujatha has just done that with her debut book, which also provides a reading in gender studies.
It is she power to the fore, with even the village chief calmly listening to the wise words of Devi, whom they refer to as ‘Amma’. And the all-powerful Devi meets her match in Yakshi, the she-devil.
The book that works in many different levels manages to hold your attention till the end. It could interest anyone on the lookout for an intriguing tale, and if supernatural fiction is your favorite field, then the book will not cease to impress you.