What does it take to make a best-selling book? It can be a range of good elements or just one breath-taking element – the story itself.
Despite the attention given to flamboyant cover designs, the author’s fame and similar demands in the modern story-writer’s world, the story, by itself, will always remain the masterpiece. Anju Darshini’s Tiger in the Portico and Other Stories is one such masterpiece. Nay, it is a collection of masterpieces. Five, to be precise.
The collection is the author’s second release after the delightful Tales of You, Me and Them that continues to build its presence among readers even after nearly two years of its publication.
Tiger in the Portico is set in an idyllic village, a couple of local girls are returning home, and then bang! Right out of nowhere, a man-eater begins to chase them. The events that happen next not only endears the characters among the readers, but also leaves a special place of affection for the tiger too! And well, the first story is only the beginning.
The stories that follow, unveil a gamut of emotions that are just as varied as the collection itself. The author brings the thrill of the chase alive in The Kidnapper, a story that is just as enlightening as it is suspense-filled. Then, there is Adhira, where a ballet dancer who is battling her own volatile emotions, has an encounter with a supernatural presence. The story, like its protagonist, dances gracefully around all its characters building itself into a perfect finale. The Dark Room is the tale of a woman who gets trapped in her own home, only to help her antagonist gain freedom from the life he has caged himself within. The story is a delight to read, jumping in and out of the reader’s intellect, at various levels – there is a dollop of wit, a tad bit of suspense, a spoonful of nostalgia and even a slice of cunning.
Of course, we save the best of stories for the last. The Manor House is as brilliant as a story can get. It leaves the reader with the awareness of raw realities of life that makes us realize not everything is destined to grow under the sun. And sometimes, everything, even growth, has a traumatic price to pay.
It is evident that the author is growing in stature with each book, and even as the reader puts one book down, they are already wondering about the treat that is in store for them through Anju Darshini’s forthcoming collections.