Because of work craziness, March has been a gongshow month for me in terms of reading, but I was determined to get this one done before the 8th. I’m in the group of those who voted for this selection, and I’m not 100% sure if I stand by it, or if I want to apologize to you all.
I’ll go light on plot synopsis here, because this has already been reviewed and discussed lots here recently. Alok is approached one evening by a mysterious stranger who abruptly reveals himself to be a half-werewolf. He hired Alok to transcribe several ancient scrolls outlining the stories of shape-shifters who have come before him. Primarily these focus on a human woman, Cyrah, and her relationships with two shape shifters.
I don’t really know how to articulate my feelings about this book. For a fairly short book, I really ran the whole spectrum of enthralled, confused, and bored. At times it was hard to determine who the narrator was, as it shifted from Alok, to the voices from the stories, to the werewolf form of the stranger. And sometimes those characters all overlapped into one stream of consciousness. Similarly, it jumped around in different times periods frequently. At the start of each chapter (and sometimes each paragraph), I found myself having to read a few sentences to figure out which voice and which time period we were dealing with, and then I had to go back and re-read in context. I appreciate that not maintaining a continuous timeline or narrator can be an effective literary device, but when it becomes a distraction I find that it takes away from the story, rather than adding to it.
When things got rolling (particularly the second scroll – Cyrah’s story), I was all in. It was gripping and original and I couldn’t put it down. But then we were back to the back-and-forth narration that just seemed choppy and disjointed and cryptic.
I did love the descriptions of India – the food, the culture, the people, the history. There were definitely times that I was ready to pitch the book completely… but in the same moment, I was totally craving some vindaloo and fresh naan.
I wish I could rate this book in sections. The first third I’d give 1.5, the middle part was a 4, and then it ended on a 2.5. It probably won’t end up in my re-read pile, and I wouldn’t readily recommend it to someone else, but I’m glad that I powered through and finished it (something that wasn’t guaranteed to happen based on how I was feeling a few chapters in).
Looking forward to the group discussion tomorrow! 🙂