Book Review: Magic Square by Salini Vineeth

magic square

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Amudha is a Ph.D. scholar, practically living in her research lab, leading an uneventful life. Amudha’s life takes an adventurous turn, when she finds a puzzle in an old Mathematics book. Surprisingly, the puzzle has nothing to do with Mathematics. Amudha embarks on a journey to solve the enigma. Every twist and turn in her journey is filled with suspense and surprises. The journey challenges and threatens Amudha. Whenever Amudha solves a part of the puzzle, a new one presents itself. Will Amudha solve the puzzle? How far does the rabbit hole go? What awaits her at the end of it? Will Amudha be the same person if she comes out of it? Read on Magic Square for answers.

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This book is a novella and of the mystery genre – two things I usually don’t gravitate towards. So, why am I reading this one? Because this is the debut English fiction book by the author Salini, who happens to be my batchmate from college. There is no way I would not take an opportunity to read a book written by someone I know and promote everywhere that I am an author’s friend 😉😉😉

Amudha is a Ph.D student who is wallowing day after day in her research lab, but doesn’t seem to have any genuine interest in it. She has grown up being the invisible child, never living up to her mother’s expectations and overshadowed by her siblings achievements – this has left her feeling insecure and she isn’t sure she will do well outside of her sheltered lab. I was pleasantly surprised when she decides to chase the mystery because it seemed out of character, but it also felt like the exact kind of push she needed to find herself.

Dinesh is a colleague of hers who is also dissatisfied with his life because his thesis hasn’t been accepted for a long time. But he is her good friend and I loved their banter. There was this familiarity in their conversations which comes from knowing everything about your best friend and it reminded me of my friends too. He goes on rants when he gets frustrated but she finds it amusing and I admired that despite being protective of her, he also realized that Amudha needed this adventure for herself and made sure he could help her in anyway possible.

As a reader, I wasn’t sure how much the author would be able to tell in a story that is just over 60 pages but as each page unfolded, I got caught up in the mystery and it was such a great feeling. The setting of Amudha’s university and the city of Bangalore evoked some great nostalgia in me and made me want to revisit those places again. The mystery is cleverly written, with Amudha uncovering it bit by bit and we see first hand how much this journey is changing her. There is also a hint of the history of Chennai’s college politics which I thought was a deft touch. The ending was very well done and I liked the message that Amudha learns from the adventure, which you have to find out for yourself. The author’s note at the end also left me slightly weepy because I realized how much I related to her – I lost my love of writing too somewhere along the way and only discovered it again last year when I decided to start my blog.

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This is a great debut novel and I think anyone who loves flawed heroines trying to solve mysteries would enjoy this a lot. This book is also available to Kindle Unlimited, so do give this one a try and let me know your thoughts. I can’t wait to see what more adventures my friend is going to take me on in her next books.

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