“Children will be thrilled by stories of demonic possession with a pisach passing exams and having to satisfy a demanding guru in a graveyard.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

Anupam Arunachalam gathers together a menagerie of creatures from myth and urban legend. They cover Daityas, Pisaches, Were Tigers, Gold digging ants and Bhoot Billi, to skim just some of the cream from the pages.  Some of them have been dug out of the pages of Herodotus and some taken from Bestiaries.

Arunachalam matches the creatures to stories so that their super powers or otherwise are explained. Children will be thrilled by stories of demonic possession with a pisach passing exams and having to satisfy a demanding guru in a graveyard. However, the more interesting stories are the ones set in history, like the story of the naga who goes looking for the lost gem in his hood with the help of a prince turned detective.

However, once the story is over, writing about the beasts themselves in a black panel with red text, makes the information rather difficult to process – the word notes also tend to hold up the text. And there are many more mythical creatures in the Indian pantheon that could have lent themselves to tales of medieval detection, something that Arunachal seems to excel in.

This had the potential to be India’s version of Fantastic Beasts. Perhaps Tooth and Nail should have brought the creatures together in one long novel, stretching out the fascination the way Rowling did, though Arunachalam has a right to his own way of tackling the subject and children will enjoy finding out about Manticores and the rest.

 

Reviewed by:

Anjana Basu

Added 19th August 2017

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Anjana Basu

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