Book review | The Curse of Anuganga by Harini Srinivasan

The Curse Of Anuganga

Author: Harini Srinivasan

No. of pages: 280

Genre: Crime Thriller, Suspense, Historical fiction

Published by: TreeShade Books

Published on: 28th April 2019

Format: Paperback

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Circa 403 C.E. In the thriving city of Nandivardhana, lives Shaunaka, a young man who yearns to go to Pataliputra to see the world and make his fortune. But he is forced to join his father's jewellery making business and soon finds himself in the workshop — a job in which his heart clearly did not lie. Thankfully, along comes distraction in the form of two extravagant Weddings — royal nuptials at the palace and another wedding at the extravagant corner house in the Buddhist quarter of the city. This house, known for its opulence and sheer size, is owned by Vinayashura, an affluent trader fabled to have mysteriously deep connection to the royal family. Shaunaka is given the charge to work on the bride's jewellery at the corner house, but instead of the mundane task at hand, a morbid sight awaits — The Trader's wife's bloodcurdling screams bring Shaunaka to Vinayashura's bedroom where he is found murdered and lying in a pool of blood!

The Curse of Anuganga is a pleasant blend of Crime/Suspense thriller and Historical fiction. Based during the rule of Chandragupta II, the story unfolds in the city of Nandivardhana, a part of Chandragupta's dynasty, ruled by his daughter, Queen Prabhabati.

The book's protagonist slash detective is Shaunaka, the royal jewellers son, who has no interest in wielding and making jewellery, but as an obedient son, he takes upon his family occupation. He and his adoptive brother are assigned by the city police and the greatest poet Kalidasa to find out who killed Vinayashura.

The author has given an introductory chapter to ease the understanding about the country (during the time the book is set) and the rulers. A lot of historical aspects and politics has been intricately laid out for the readers. We all usually read detective novels, but a detective novel during the old times, when the Kings and Queens rules, where anyone can be accused and tried and sentenced anytime, is a novel idea.

Though I liked the mystery and the narrative of the book, the plot did not amaze me. It was quite predictable (for me at least) and the climax scene didn't make any impression on me. What I loved the most is the character description of Shaunaka and Ashwini and the mentions of the daily lives during the Golden era. I also liked how the author sketches out Shaunaka and Ashwini's relationship and also Shaunaka's relationship with his parents and grandmother, especially when it comes to the matter of Shaunaka's Inheritance of his father's profession.

Shaunaka's character has been perfectly structured by the author. Being the protagonist, the one who saves the day, we know a lot more about Shaunaka than it is needed. I loved reading about him though. But I'm a tad bit disappointed because I wanted to see Shaunaka having a romantic interest. It might be there in the next book in the series maybe.

The author's narration is exactly like the old era. A bit old-fashioned and very formal. In a good way, really. It will transport you to those days and will make you feel as if you belong there. Her dialogue-writing might be a bit complicated for some since she uses formal and ancient Sanskrit terms. Other than that I loved how the book is narrated.

An aficionado of literature, history and dance, Harini Srinivasan has found innovative ways of bringing her passions to her work. Among her achievements is her contribution as an editor of several prestigious publications published by the Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, such as Selected Speeches of the President: Pranab Mukherjee; The Republican Ethic: Selected Speeches of Shri Ram Nath Kovind; Indian Dance – Through a Critic’s Eye; Abode Under the Dome; Legends of Indian Silver Screen; and Selected Speeches of the Vice President: M. Venkaiah Naidu. She also has to her credit a children’s book “The Wizard Tales - Adventures of Bun-Bun” (now into its second print) and a blog on classic Hindi films and books ( Along the way, she undertook different roles (Civil Servant, Project Manager, Communications Professional and Editor) across countries (India, Germany and the Netherlands). A doting mother of a 10 year old son, Harini Srinivasan lives with her family in Gurgaon.

I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset


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