This was such an unexpected read and I’m so delighted. I had completely forgotten that I preordered this book and when it suddenly showed up on my kindle, I couldn’t resist and had to begin immediately. I’m a huge fan of anthologies, and this was a wonderful opportunity to discover the most compelling female voices in contemporary Indian publishing. This a great collection of tales featuring badass women, who are fed up of being told what they should and shouldn’t do, and decide to take destiny into their own hands. There is also an underlying theme about the devastation being caused towards our Mother Earth across many stories and I loved this nod to Indian mythology where we worship Bhoomata. There are obviously both hits and misses like any anthologies, but I definitely ended the book feeling quite magical.
Gul by Shreya Ila Anasuya
This story had so many elements – the backdrop of the Sepoy mutiny, the mehfils of Lucknow, courtesan culture of the time and a beautiful tale of immortal love of two women.
Gandaberunda by S. V. Sujatha
Wow this was creepy af. But written quite well. And I can’t say anything else without spoiling it.
Rulebook for Creating a Universe by Tashan Mehta
This felt like a story about how women who stray from the so-called “rules” are always punished and used as cautionary tales. And that women should make their own rules and create their own destiny. This also seems like a very allegorical tale about the creation of a universe and I thought it was a good one.
The Demon Hunter’s Dilemma by Samhita Arni
This was a wonderful story – a demon hunter realizing that everything she has been taught is not necessarily true, that we shouldn’t be quick to judge a whole group of people just because of the actions of the few. Definitely a very timely truth.
Earth and Evolution Walk into a Bar.. by Sejal Mehta
This story had so many layers to it, but the heart of it is how humans are destroying the earth and also how the superior intelligence of humans is only increasing their penchant for violence against each other, and what will happen when Mother Earth decides to retaliate. This was masterful storytelling and I would have loved for it to be longer.
Tridevi Turbulence by Trisha Das
Written as a conversation between Goddesses, this story is a metaphor for how humans are abusing river Ganga and what would probably happen in the future if it isn’t stopped. Both witty and interesting.
Stone Cold by Kiran Manral
Set in a futuristic world where every human touch is forbidden and cloning is the method to create the future of mankind, this story explores the theme of human desire. It was written very well.
The Gatekeeper’s Intern by Ruchika Roy
I’m not sure I really understood this story about life, death and afterlife but I think inherent message was that we should strive to create balance in the world, and not reinforce the negative things in life.
Grandma Garam’s Kitty Party by Shweta Taneja
I think this was a story about wanting to be different from what our family believes in, but ultimately realizing the importance of trusting our family. But it takes places among a group of chudails and it was written in such a hilarious manner, it made me quite hysterical. Couldn’t stop laughing.
The Carnival at the Edge of the Worlds by Shveta Thakrar
This is kind of a little retelling of Nala and Damayanti’s story but I can’t say I understood it well.
The Rakshasi’s Rose Garden by Sukanya Venkatraghavan
Quite a creepy tale about a Rakshasi living in the modern world, what starts out like a gossipy story turns into something so much more painful. Wonderfully written and made me quite emotional.
Bahameen by Asma Kazi
I can’t say I understood the deeper meaning behind the story but it kinda tells that even deeds done with good intent can have devastating consequences.
The Girl who Haunted Death by Nikita Deshpande
A very compelling retelling of Savitri’s story, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A kind of cautionary tale about “be careful what you wish for”, I thought it was written brilliantly.
Apocalyptica by Krishna Udayashankar
Another story about the devastation happening around in the world, not just due to climate change but also violence perpetrated by humans in general – this one is told through the eyes of the three Goddess who are fed up of their Trimurti husbands not doing enough and decide to take matters into their own hands. It’s brutal but definitely a wonderful read.